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Rail Crossing Obstacle Detector.

Detect vehicle parked on the crossing.
  [vote for,

Just reading the terrible news about the Berkshire UK train crash. I got to thinking..how difficult would it be to have a motion or pressure sensor based system at the crossing that could warn if something large was parked on the line and the barriers are down.
blammo, Nov 08 2004

Some stuff on train safety http://www.on-track...fesaver-intro.shtml
"Average freight train stopping distance: 55 mph = over 1 mile. Eight-car passenger train stopping distance: 79 mph = over 1 mile." [angel, Nov 08 2004]


       Given the speeds involved, it is generally too late for the train to stop by the time the barriers have come down.   

       Increasing the length of time between the barriers being lowered and the train passing to overcome this would lead to more impatient car drivers taking the risk of trying to cross round the barriers.
prufrax, Nov 08 2004

       "Given the speeds involved, it is generally too late for the train to stop by the time the barriers have come down."   

       You have got to be kidding me. Last time I waited at a barrier it took about 3 minutes between the barrier coming down and the train arriving. What train can't stop in three minutes?
st3f, Nov 08 2004

       Better barriers would stop some track incrusions but not in the case for the Berkshire accident as the vehicle was in the tracks before the barriers came down.
oneoffdave, Nov 08 2004

       Every level crossing in Japan (and there are thousands of them) has a set of sensors pointing along, across and diagonally across the crossing. Any object of a dangerous size on the crossing is detected and the oncoming train signalled to stop.
ConsulFlaminicus, Nov 08 2004

       Some reduction in the impact velocity has to be a good thing. +
scubadooper, Nov 08 2004

       On the "Train Bumper" idea (up there--^), I said that "a train travelling at around 60 mph takes about a mile to stop, assuming good conditions. Allowing for faster, heavier trains and less than optimal conditions, you should probably double that." I'm not sure where I got that figure, but I *do* remember that it was fairly accurate.
angel, Nov 08 2004

       The problem is that it would cost millions to install any sort of decent system, and since this is the first time train passengers have been killed on a level crossing for 20 years, a cost benefit analysis would say 'do nothing'.
stupop, Nov 09 2004

       What about a RR-crossing catapult, which heaves the car up in the air and off the tracks if a train is coming? Then the train can pass safely, and the passengers in the car will still have a good chance of surviving.
phundug, Nov 09 2004

       How about a sliding platform under the crossing with a second rail on it that deployed at high speed shifting the car out of the way and replacing it with the second rail?
blammo, Nov 10 2004

       Or a matter vaporiser that zapped the vehicle before the train got there?
blammo, Nov 10 2004

       That wasn't at a level crossing though.
From the BBC: "the crash in Berkshire was the first to kill passengers since 1986, when nine people died on a train which hit a van on the tracks in Lockington, Yorkshire. "
angel, Nov 10 2004

       I read this week (sorry, can't find the reference now...) that one rail industry spokesperson said something like "This is not a railway accident - this is a road traffic accident that involved rail passengers."   

       Which sounds to me like an impressively slippery way of saying "Whatever happens, we ain't paying for any improvements!"
thud, Nov 10 2004

       Yes. I was referring specifically to level crossings, but I guess this idea could be applied to obstacles anywhere on the track, as it is not *only* at level crossing where this kind of thing can happen; case in point being the Selby crash. Far more people die on the roads, but whoever pays for it, it all comes from the same place does it not?
stupop, Nov 10 2004


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