- The train crew can operate the crossing as required, avoiding unnecessary delays to rail and road traffic.
- The system removes the need for the train crew to stop and restart the train in order to operate the crossing, thereby saving time, fuel, brake wear, and stress on the locomotive.
- As the train crew need not alight from the locomotive, potentials for slips, trips and falls are avoided.
- Lights only, half barrier, and full barrier control options are available.
- Only one handset per train crew is required, irrespective of the number of crossings to be operated.
- Once one train crew has control of a crossing, commands from other handsets are ignored.
- The need for walkways is reduced, with associated cost and environmental benefits.
- Outputs from the control system can provide a rail signal for the benefit of the train crew to confirm that the crossing has operated, and another to illuminate the crossing to provide a visual indication that the crossing is clear of any obstructions.
- The system can be retrofitted to existing crossings.
Note: In railway parlance, a level crossing is Open when the path is clear for the train, and Closed when the crossing permits road traffic. This terminology is used in the following narrative.
The system has three states:
- ‘Available’ is when the crossing is closed and any operator can obtain control;
- ‘Locked’ is when the crossing is operating;
- ‘Open’ is when the crossing is under the control of a handset and clear for rail traffic to traverse.
In conjunction with our system for remotely controlling points, the same handset can be used to operate Rail/Road crossings. The operating philosophy is identical, in that the operator programmes the crossing number into the handset prior to issuing commands to the assigned crossing. The Rail/Road crossing can be any of the following: lights only (either static or wig-wag), or barrier type (again with static or wig-wag lighting). The control caters for an amber warning of impending crossing operation, which is always recommended to be used, and this time interval is under the control of the system manager. The control system can be added to an existing crossing, simply providing the equivalent of the on and off contact closures, or can be used to provide the complete control. The system provides for a multi-user operation, since each crossing is in the ‘Available’ state where the crossing is closed (to rail traffic), when it is not in the ‘Locked’ or ‘Open’ state under the control of a handset. When control is obtained by one user, the crossing remains under the sole command of that handset until the user relinquishes control by closing the crossing, or on completion of the timeout, when the crossing closes, reverts to the ‘Available’ state, and permits control from any user.
For logistical benefits, the system uses the same receiver electronics hardware as used in the points receiver control, with all parameters being under the control of the system manager to provide the ideal operating timings for a particular location. This control is by the use of a removable user-programmable memory contained within a ‘dongle’ that provides the electronics with the crossings parameters. The programming software supplied operates in a Windows™-based environment, permitting parameter modifications to be performed in the office away from the trackside.
The operator enters the crossing number into the handset and selects either ‘crossing open’ or ‘crossing closed’. In addition to manually shutting the crossing, the timeout, as set by the system manager, can be used as a fallback should the train crew forget to close the crossing after traversing. Obviously track circuits or treadles can be used to provide the necessary inputs to operate the crossing, but these devices need to cater for the highest train speed, and slower trains may result in unnecessary delays to the road traffic. As each crossing can have a unique identity number, only that which the operator commands will respond.
An event monitoring and logging facility is available to record the operator and the activities of the crossing.