Benefit

In Baltimore, a "second train coming" warning system decreased the frequency of the most common risky behavior at crossings (i.e., drivers that crossed the tracks after the protection gates began to ascend from the first train before the protection gates could be redeployed for the second train) by 26 percent.


November 2002
Timonium,Maryland,United States


Summary Information

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) digest summarizes the results of two demonstration projects concerning second train coming warning signs for light rail transit systems. The demonstrations were conducted in Baltimore Maryland and Los Angeles California and were administered by the Federal Transit Administration. The two demonstrations were designed to increase awareness of and compliance with the conditions of second train coming events using active sign warning systems.

In a suburb of Baltimore, the Maryland Mass Transit Administration installed a "Second Train Coming" warning system at a dual track light-rail train crossing on Timonium Road. Using existing track circuitry to determine when a train was about to enter the crossing immediately following a prior train, the system notified travelers via variable message signs and pedestrian signal heads in addition to the crossing gates, flashing lights, and warning bells previously installed.

The existing train circuitry was designed to detect trains 1,760 feet upstream and 528 feet downstream of the crossing. When two trains were detected approaching from opposite directions, the protection gates and other warning devices remained active until both trains completely past the downstream detectors. However, if the meeting point of two trains was outside the detection zone, the gates and warning devices activated and deactivated by the first train were sometimes activated again by a second train within about 10 seconds. This "Second Train Coming" phenomenon occurred about 10 times per day. Thus, to reduce risks to travelers, flashing/animated dynamic message signs were installed to provide additional warning when gates were lifting at the same time a second train was detected. The warning sign flashed the message "WARNING" for 2.5 seconds, followed by the steady text message "2nd TRAIN COMING" for 2.5 more seconds, followed by an animation sequence (two trains crossing an intersection from two opposite directions) for 4 more seconds.

The system was installed in September 1998, and four CCTV video cameras were used to evaluate motorist behavior one month "before" and two months "after" installation. A traffic engineer was trained to view the surveillance data and identify the following types of risky behavior.
  • Pedestrians crossed the tracks while gates were down.
  • Pedestrians crossed Timonium Road in front of downed gates.
  • Motorists drove around a downed gate.
  • Vehicles remained stopped on tracks.
  • Drivers crossed gate line, but stopped after realizing that a second train was coming and drove backward behind the line to avoid the gate crashing on their vehicles.
  • Vehicles stopped in front of the gate while a train was crossing.
  • Gates descended on vehicles.
  • Vehicles crashed gates.
  • Drivers started to move forward after the first light rail vehicle crossed Timonium Road and the gates were down, but stopped after realizing that a second train was coming.
  • Vehicles crossed the tracks after the first light rail vehicle cleared Timonium Road while the gates were ascending but had not reached the full upward vertical position, and before the gates descended again for the second light rail vehicle.
The number of occurrences of "risky behavior" observed and recorded during the three study periods is shown in the table below.



Observations
BEFORE
(Aug. 1998)

Observations
AFTER
(Sept. 1998)

Observations
AFTER
(Oct. 1998)

Average Percent Improvement per 100 STC incidents

Total number of Second Train Coming (STC) incidents

320

363

348

n/a

Pedestrians crossed Timonium Road in front of downed gates

2

1

0

-

Drivers crossed gate line, but stopped after
realizing that a second train was coming, and drove backward behind the line to avoid the gate crashing on their vehicles

4

6

8

-

Vehicle stopped in front of the gate while train was crossing

1

0

0

-

Drivers started to move forward after the first light rail vehicle crossed Timonium Road, and the gates were down, but stopped after realizing that a second train was coming

21

10

3

72%

Vehicles crossed the tracks after the first light rail vehicle cleared Timonium Road while the gates were ascending but had not reached the full upward vertical position and before the gates descended again for the second coming light rail vehicle

53

49

39

26%


After the system was installed there was a 26 percent decrease in the frequency of the most common risky behavior: drivers that crossed the tracks after the protection gates began to ascend from the first train and before they could be re-deployed to protect the intersection from a second train.

Notes:
See Also:

Mass Transit Administration. Draft Final Report for Second Train Coming Warning Sign Demonstration Project. Transit Cooperative Research Program Project A-5A. Baltimore, MD: Feb. 1999.

Chappell, Debra M. and Anya A. Carroll. "Comparative Analysis of Innovative High-Priority ITS Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Projects: Interim Report," Paper presented at the ITS America 2000 Annual Meeting. Boston, MA. May 1-4, 2000.

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Source

Second Train Coming Warning Sign Demonstration Projects

Published By: TCRP Research Results Digest

Source Date: November 2002

Other Reference Number: Volume 52

URL: http://trb.org/publications/tcrp/tcrp_rrd_51.pdf

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Notes

Benefit of the Month for May, 2005 !


Goal Areas

Safety

Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas

Keywords

railroad crossings, HRI, Highway Rail Intersections, grade crossing closure, railroad crossing

Benefit ID: 2005-00282