OC Transpo Operations At Railway Level Crossings

Technical Briefing Session April 9, 2014

Railway Level Crossings in Ottawa
• There are 75 railway level crossings in Ottawa

• Of these, 20 are used by scheduled OC Transpo service


Railway Crossing Types
Three types of railway crossings: 1. Protected with flashing lights, bells, and gates 2. Protected with flashing lights and bells only

3. Unprotected, marked with a crossbuck


1. Protected with flashing lights, bells, and gates


2. Protected with flashing lights and bells only


3. Unprotected, marked with a crossbuck


Crossings Used by OC Transpo
Location Transitway Anderson Boundary Carp Road Conroy  Protected with lights/bells/gates     Protected with lights/bells only Unprotected

Donald B. Munro Dunrobin Fallowfield Greenbank

   
 6

Crossings Used by OC Transpo
Location Jockvale Lester March McCarthy Merivale  Protected with lights/bells/gates     Protected with lights/bells only Unprotected

Michael Piperville Pleasant Park Rockdale

   
 7

OC Transpo Operating Practices
• At protected railway crossings, operators are trained to:
– Observe and follow posted speed limits when approaching crossings – Hover their foot over the brake pedal and scan the track(s) for approaching trains. – Slow down, listen and look both ways to make sure the way is clear before crossing the track(s). – If the warning devices are activated, stop at least five metres from the nearest rail or gate and do not cross the track(s) until train or trains have passed and the signals have been deactivated. – If there are red flashing warning signal lights, wait until they stop flashing and, if the crossing has a gate, wait until it is fully in the upright position before safely cross the track(s). – This follows the requirement of the Highway Traffic Act.

OC Transpo Operating Practices
• At unprotected crossings: – Buses must stop at least five metres from the nearest rail – While stopped, the driver must open the bus door, look and listen for any approaching trains – The driver must not change gears when the bus is crossing the tracks – Follows the requirements of the Highway Traffic Act • Regular OC Transpo service does not operate over any unprotected crossings

Operating Practices of Other Major Transit Systems
Transit system Always stop before crossing       Do not stop if warning devices not activated Toronto Montreal Calgary Winnipeg Edmonton Vancouver


What Did OC Transpo Do In the Past?
• In September 1988, OC Transpo introduced a procedure so that all vehicles were required to stop at all level crossings at all times

• This policy was introduced following representation by a local school board • Safety was cited as the main reason for the introduction of the policy
• The procedure was opposed by the former City of Nepean

What Did OC Transpo Do In The Past?
• In February 1992, the policy was rescinded following discussions between OC Transpo and Transport Canada officials • It was cited in an operational bulletin that the “retiming of signal activity” had been standardized, suggesting that the policy had been introduced due to inconsistent signal timing at protected level crossings


Summary Current Operating Practice
• At protected crossings, operators are trained and required to “hover” their foot over the brake pedal and scan the track for approaching train(s). • At unprotected crossings, operators are trained and required to stop, look, and listen, following the law


Next Steps That Were Taken
• OC Transpo has retained independent road / rail safety experts to provide professional advice to answer this question: – Should OC Transpo implement a procedure whereby buses would be required to stop at protected railway crossings at grade, even when the protection is not active? • Their analysis and recommendations follow

MMM Group Presentation


OC Transpo Bus Crossing Procedures At Railway Crossings


Some Context


The risk management space




Study objective
Should OC Transpo implement a procedure whereby buses would be required to stop at all actively protected railway crossings at all times?

Para Transpo not examined

What we’ll talk about
Stop or don’t stop?
• •

• •

Safety considerations Liability considerations What the literature says Current practices Legislation Findings: Stop or don’t stop

Warning systems

A critical element

Conclusions & recommendations

Safety Considerations


What’s happening now?
Train/vehicle collisions

Low likelihood - high severity • 40 times fatality/injury rate

Other non-train crossing collisions

5 times as likely • e.g. Rear-end/vehicle stopped, fixed object, etc.

Both affect risk management

Key Risk Elements
Crossing time/Exposure

Addressed in physical design (RTD-10) • Linked to warning time and pre-emption • Verify and document • New procedures under review

Non-train collision risk

Influenced by operating procedures


Liability Considerations


Public Safety & Liability
Compliance with established practices:
• • • • • •

RTD-10 and Railway Safety Act HTA & legislation Signal and warning systems Failsafe design of warning devices Consider crossing as a whole Defensible crossing procedures


The Literature


What’s in the literature
Limited specific information

Nothing on transit procedures • Focus on school buses & hazardous loads

A seminal document:

1985 FHWA study • No stopping increases safety • Stopping increases risk of crashes • Stopping increases crossing time

FHWA Study Finding
“Not requiring stops would result in a net annual decrease in train-involved accidents for hazardous material transporters, school buses, and passenger buses of 2.6%, 10.8% and17.4% respectively.”


Another Key Finding
“Intuitively, many people think that requiring buses to stop at inactive crossings equipped with active protection would offer some safety advantages. The reality however is that there does not appear to be any quantitative evidence indicating that stopping transit buses at these crossings improves road safety performance. To the contrary, the literature indicates that stopping these buses at appropriately equipped crossings will likely result in more collisions overall at the crossing.”

Current Practices


What are others doing?
Two alternative policies: go/stop

Both practices applied across NA

Operation Life Saver – does not pronounce




Current practice compliant with HTA

Quebec requires stopping
Practices vary within Canada

In general:

School buses & dangerous goods must stop • Motor coaches are sometimes mentioned (US) • Public transit rarely addressed

Findings: Stop or Don’t Stop?


Effects of stopping
Net increase in train-vehicle collisions (17.4%)

Despite minor reduction in vehicle hitting train collisions (3.3%) • May address total failure of the warning system & failsafe

Greater exposure to train crash risk

It takes longer to cross

Increased driver workload

Greater potential for error

Creates vehicle/vehicle conflicts:

Rear end, sideswipe, run-off-road, fixed object…

What does this all mean? (1)
A risk management choice
Overall risk must be considered No quantitative evidence to support stopping Current practice is defensible


What does this all mean? (2)
The basic question:
Assuming all actively protected crossings in the City comply with or exceed the provisions of RTD-10 and incorporate a failsafe mode, then the current bus crossing policy is sustainable and appropriate.


Warning Systems


Active protection

Lights, bells and gates

Lights and bells only


However …
The finding does not distinguish between levels of active protection Differences in levels of safety performance


“Warrants” help select warning device type
Current warrants do not specifically consider transit and its unique risks

Potential for very severe impacts.


Conclusions & Recommendations


Current “no stop” policy for actively protected crossings is appropriate

Superior safety performance when compared to stopping policy


Buses should use only gated crossings

Improved safety effectiveness

All at-grade HR crossings in the City of Ottawa should be re-examined for compliance when new TC and/or TSB guidelines are issued.


Thank You


• To date, there has been no observation, order, direction or recommendation for OC Transpo to change its current operating practice. • TSB is reviewing whether buses should be required to stop at crossings. • Taking all factors into account, the overall safety performance of protected railway crossings is higher if buses do not stop when the warning devices are not activated. • This position is supported by engineering research and is consistent with HTA scheme, and staff considers this practice to be the safest operational practice for OC Transpo buses traversing protected railway crossings when the warning devices are note activated.

Conclusions (Cont’d)
• Recommendation from independent road / rail safety experts is to make no change to current OC Transpo operating practice. • Their findings are that having buses stop at railway crossings when warning devices are not activated would reduce safety. • HTA does not require transit buses to stop at railway crossings when warning devices are not activated.


Next Steps
• Continuing cooperation with TSB and other authorities • Awaiting findings from TSB • Consider any recommendations from TSB or other authorities • Continue dialogue with VIA and railway companies • Advise Canadian Urban Transit Association members of this report


Next Steps (Cont’d)
• Install gates at four crossings because there are no alternate routes available that do not include ungated crossings: – Herzberg – Lester – March – McCarthy • Explore options to serve customers in Village of Carp without using ungated crossings there

Next Steps (Cont’d)
• Continue work to respond to ESDC direction:

– Examine railway crossings as a part of the workplace for transit employees – Consider ergonomic factors – Consultants engaged – Field work has begun – Additional field work in late summer with full foliage – Report back to ESDC before end of 2014


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