do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

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Mega85
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do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby Mega85 » Tue Nov 15, 2016 12:51 am UTC

do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses? i do. there are times when emergency vehicles take longer to get to people because they have to wait for a train.

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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby ucim » Tue Nov 15, 2016 2:48 am UTC

How many railroad crossings are there? How much would it cost to do each one? Can you think of a better (more effective) use of that much money in improving health and safety?

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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Nov 15, 2016 2:49 am UTC

That (OP) is just one of the arguments against level-crossings (UK term). The chances of a significant emergency happening at the crossing point, due to human error/incompetence/whatever upon the shared zone, has always to be factored in. Perhaps justifying the building of an expensive over/under bridge route for the road, perhaps yet below the level required to submit to such non-trivial expense.

And I'm certain that emergency vehicles that regularly use routes (that can be so interupted) already have a vehicle->emergency dispatch->rail dispatch->train communication chain established to coordinate whether priority can be deferred by the train in the event of a badly timed intersection of vehicles, or perhaps establish that a minor detour to an adjacent level/bridging crossing would be more profitable in this instance, when occasion demands.

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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby Mega85 » Tue Nov 15, 2016 4:02 am UTC

yeah, it would be extremely difficult to replace all railroad crossings. there's so many of them. if a railroad crossing blocks the only entrance to a neighborhood, i think it should be replaced with an overpass.

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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby HES » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:40 am UTC

In the UK, it is Network Rail's (the company that manages national rail infrastructure) policy to close as many level crossings as possible, especially the pedestrian-only type. This is nothing to do with road traffic delays, and everything to do with fatal train-strikes. People are impatient idiots - CCTV of near-misses is regularly released as a PR campaign. Even tram/light rail crossings are being closed.

This can't be done everywhere, of course. We have a lot of stations right in the middle of small towns, the main road crosses at the end of the station. No room to ramp anything. In rural Canada (I noted, whilst on holiday there last Christmas) there are level crossings for people's driveways. But that's one car, and only a handful of trains per day. Not practical to change them all.

In the end it comes down to traffic levels on both the rail and the road. If either is remotely high, it should be grade-separated. (Underpasses exist too!)
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby Liri » Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:19 pm UTC

Like Soupspoon said, bridges are expensive. Even a pedestrian bridge-only version of the OP would cost a ridiculous amount if every crossing got one.

That said... I have been in a train when it killed an older guy who was hard of hearing and using a cane who was crossing the tracks where he was supposed to (but not when). It was awful. The man's mother had died just the previous week, too.

If there are high-risk areas that aren't solely "more people, more chances to get hit", maybe they could be prioritized.
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby jewish_scientist » Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:29 pm UTC

According to this very long report, the major delays in ambulance response times are various communication issues and civilian car based traffic (page 53).

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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:44 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:According to this very long report, the major delays in ambulance response times are various communication issues and civilian car based traffic (page 53).

And your point is?
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby HES » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:15 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:And your point is?

I assume the implication was that level crossings do not significantly hinder emergency vehicles as suggested in the OP.
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby Thesh » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:17 pm UTC

Well, if your goal is to improve ambulance response time, and you have to work within a budget, then more effective results will likely be obtained probably by focusing on reducing car traffic and improving communications, rather than building a bridge over every single rail crossing.
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby somitomi » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:14 pm UTC

Definitely not.
I think the emergency vehicles having to wait is a relatively minor issue, the big problem is that most accidents happening in level crossings are fatal. And a lot of traffic means accidents happen often, so it is reasonable to convert such crossings into grade separated ones. But this is very costly, and isn't worth the effort if either railway or road traffic is low (admittedly, drawing the line is a diffcult job). And even grade separated crossings are no match for laziness, I've seen pedestrians crossing the rails right over an underpass just to dodge two flights of stairs.
Anyway, the majority of such accidents is the result of an error on the car driver's part, and we don't have to wait too long for autonomous vehicles to eliminate that problem completely.
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:08 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses? i do. there are times when emergency vehicles take longer to get to people because they have to wait for a train.


An overpass is probably better, if space and finances allows. I certainly can't imagine it does in all cases. Lots of rural roads experiencing extremely low traffic cross tracks. Dirt or gravel, etc. The whole road probably cost less than an overpass would, and likely isn't worth it.

I presume transportation experts have various methodologies to gauge such cost/benefit questions, and have probably already considered this. It's likely particularly obvious to them, so I wouldn't bother to bring it up to 'em. I'd look at decisions at a more meta level, such as if transportation funding should be increased relative to other areas.

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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby suffer-cait » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:10 pm UTC

Personally trains going above me makes me really nervous and I'd prefer they didn't.
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby paulisa » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:12 pm UTC

Closing pedestrian-only level crossings is a wonderful illustration of "why we can't have nice things." Pedestrians and other traffic that is solely muscle-powered is impacted most severely by detours, so closing pedestrian crossings can cause people to take a car to destinations that they had previously walked to. Perversely, this may lead to *more* deaths due to vehicular traffic accidents, especially when the number of pedestrians gets so low that drivers don't expect them.

Underpasses can be problematic in areas near rivers (if the track follows the valley) or which experience heavy rainfall, since they can get flooded very quickly and cut off all access to points beyond. This would not improve the situation of emergency vehicles.
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby HES » Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:06 pm UTC

paulisa wrote:Pedestrians and other traffic that is solely muscle-powered is impacted most severely by detours

This can be managed with good design.

Can't design against stupid, though. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/38393823
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Re: do you think all railroad crossings should be replaced with overpasses?

Postby somitomi » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:23 pm UTC

HES wrote:
paulisa wrote:Pedestrians and other traffic that is solely muscle-powered is impacted most severely by detours

This can be managed with good design.

Can't design against stupid, though. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/38393823

I sometimes think maybe we shouldn't. Apparently they don't value their own lives too much...
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