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Development of an At-grade Rail Crossing Information System Prototype


The success of an emergency response is often measured in minutes or even seconds. Small delays to fire, paramedic, and police en-route to emergencies can be catastrophic and even fatal. Train crossing delays can represent a significant source of delay and can frequently last more than several minutes. Although the number of emergency vehicles being delayed by a train compared to the total number of emergency calls may be perceived as small, anecdotal evidence from dispatchers and prior research indicate that emergency vehicles can be stopped by trains on a weekly and nearly daily basis. Given that real-time data are available to determine the location, speed, and direction of a train, it is concerning that this information is not being used to inform emergency responders and prevent unnecessary delays at rail crossings. Meanwhile, however, dispatchers have insufficient information to make real-time decisions that best support responses to emergencies.
This paper describes the development of an at-grade rail crossing information system (RCIS) prototype that can detect a blockage and communicate the information in real-time. Specifically, this paper provides preliminary data analysis results from the prototype concerning the accuracy of the system, challenges and limitations, lessons learned, key considerations, and feasibility for implementation. The paper describes various applications for the RCIS, including integration with traffic management centres and providing traveler information directly to road users via smartphone apps or media outlets.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Transportation Safety and Security
Rempel, G.
Ternowetsky, N.
Reimer, M.
Road safety