Highway Rail Grade Crossing Warning System

Accurate and efficient detection of trains is important for highway/rail at-grade crossings to provide adequate warning and sufficient safety to conflicting vehicles. Current warning device technologies for pedestrians and motorists that are used in the detection of trains as they approach level crossings can be costly to construct and maintain. Typical warning devices at crossings include flashing lights, bells, and gates. The proposed research would investigate a newly developed system for detecting trains, the WaveTrain Level Crossing Warning System, that has the potential to substantially reduce lifecycle costs while maintaining safety at the crossing. The current technology in the United States used for train detection to activate warning devices at crossings is an electrical circuit, using a low voltage current transmitted along the rails. These typical warning devices operate by signaling an activation when there is a disruption of the electrical circuit by a train. The WaveTrain Level Crossing Warning System replaces these track circuits with technology that detects signals generated naturally in the rails by approaching trains through the specific sound wave profile associated with trains. Sound wave signals integrated with multiple sensors at the level crossing are incorporated into the system. By utilizing the sound wave profile of the train, instead of the disruption of an electrical circuit, the detection equipment can be installed within the immediate area of the crossing (usually within 50 feet), which eliminates the need for installing cables over long distances for the transmission of electrical currents to the necessary detection point, which often entails one mile or more on higher speed rail lines. Additionally, the physical components for the WaveTrain Level Crossing Warning System are buried underground or within enclosures, which increases the durability of the equipment and decreases the potential for vandalism. The purpose of this proposed project is to evaluate the WaveTrain Level Crossing Warning System for its performance and potential for replacement of other detection methods. The project will include a review of the practice, system installation and testing, system monitoring and evaluation, and documentation of the research and findings.