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Illinois commission urges FRA to adopt safety guidelines for HSR crossings

(The following appeared on the Progressive Railroading website on August 24, 2009.)

On Friday, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) announced its railroad safety staff has recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) adopt new safety guidelines for high-speed rail (HSR) crossings.

The ICC is urging the FRA — which is preparing new guidelines for HSR implementation in the United States — to require that HSR crossings be uniformly engineered with systems that address both moving vehicles and vehicles stopped at a crossing. The safety systems currently are only installed on crossings along the Northeast Corridor, according to the ICC.

The commission’s staff also recommends that the FRA adopt three new HSR safety principles: the elimination of all redundant or unnecessary crossings that cannot be made safe due to geometry or proximity of complex highway intersections; the installation of either four-quadrant gate or barrier-gate safety systems equipped with presence/intrusion detection and tied to new positive train control systems; and the elimination or grade separation of all crossings where trains speeds exceed 110 mph.

In addition, the ICC is urging federal rail planners to require locked gates with dispatch control over entry at private crossings where train speeds range from 80 mph to 110 mph, unless vehicular traffic warrants the same safety treatments as public crossings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

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