September 26, 2012

NJ Transit unveils new rail safety system

NJ Transit unveiled its new rail safety device, “Another Train Coming,” which is designed to enhance pedestrian safety around the tracks. The installation is part of an ongoing effort to ramp up rail safety across the state through recommendations from the agency's rail safety committee.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and NJ Transit recently installed the “Another Train Coming” warning system at the Outwater Lane grade crossing, adjacent to the Plauderville rail station.

The system consists of active signs in all four quadrants of the rail crossing, with an LED text message that reads, “DANGER, Another Train Coming,” as well as an audio component that repeatedly sounds the same message. The “Another Train Coming” warning system is activated whenever two trains are in the immediate vicinity of the crossing. For example, if one train is already in the station, and another is approaching on the other track (out of view), the system will provide a warning to pedestrians who might consider crossing the tracks illegally with the gates in the down position.

The system reinforces the fact that just because one train is leaving the station does not mean it is “safe” to walk around the downed crossing gates. The system is designed to provide an additional warning to pedestrians to remain behind the crossing gates even after the one train they may be aware of has left the station.

NJDOT and NJ Transit implemented the “Another Train Coming” warning system as part of a pilot program recommended by the NJ Safety at Railroad Crossings Leadership Oversight Committee, comprised of representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NJ Department of Education, State Police, Motor Vehicle Commission and NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety, NJ Transit Police, NJDOT, NJ Transit and Operation Lifesaver. 

Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chairman James Simpson convened the committee in the wake of two separate incidents in October 2011 that claimed the lives of three teenagers on NJ Transit tracks.   

At the direction of Commissioner Simpson, the committee was tasked with developing strategies in the areas of Engineering, Enforcement and Education in order to ramp up safety across the state’s rail network, particularly in areas where trains travel through densely populated neighborhoods, with the goal of reducing overall fatalities and accidents at railroad grade crossings.

NJDOT and NJ Transit are conducting the “Another Train Coming” pilot program at Plauderville Station to test the effectiveness of the signs and determine whether this type of system may be used on other grade crossings in its rail system. The Volpe Center, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is participating in the evaluation and analysis of the warning sign’s effectiveness under an agreement with the FRA.

In addition to the “Another Train Coming” signs, NJDOT and NJ Transit made several other enhancements to the Outwater Lane grade crossing, including an additional pedestrian gate, a delineated sidewalk and 300 feet of additional fencing along the railroad right of way.

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