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Project Background

Discuss about the Level Crossing Removal Project Between Caulfield To Dandenon, Victoria Australia.

A level crossing is a point in which a path or road and a railway line meet at the same level. The level at which the railway line and road meet is very important to determine whether the crossing can be categorized as a level crossing (Cirovic & Pamucar 2012, n.p.). When a railway line and a road meet either above each other such as the road being over the railway line that is not a level crossing. Level crossing can also be referred to as railway crossing, grade crossing, railroad crossing, and road through railroad, RXR or train crossing. Level crossing which were used a long time ago usually had an individual who known as a flagman near the booth. The flagman had an objective of waving a lantern during the night or a red flag during the day to stop any traffic and clear the railway tracks whenever there was a train on approach.        

The following project was necessitated based on the number of deaths and other safety concerns that have come up due to the use of level crossing. In recent times the mass of trains and the loads in which they carry makes them very hard to stop at short distances. These trains need to start braking from a very far distance to avoid any kind of collisions with traffic passing through the level crossing.

The project need is to display and provide an argument that though level crossing served a needed purpose in the past and were cost friendly to construct, they need to be removed or barred from use to avoid the many safety concerns that are accompanied by it. They also need to be removed to ease congestion which is caused when they are in place. (Mok & Savage 2005, p.873).

The preliminary is design is the first phase in determining how a project will be done and how it will flow to achieve its objectives. In our project the preliminary design shall focus on two main factors functional and feasibility analysis.

Functional analysis is the breaking down of a project or function into smaller parts and analyzed. In our case we shall analyze the functions of the level crossing. The level crossing is where a road and a railway line meet on the same level. This means that at one moment in time the train will pass through this position and at another there will be traffic on this position. The crossing enables both trains and vehicles to pass through it as they move from one point to another. The level crossing is important because it facilitates transport of goods and people from one point to another. Without the level crossing there would be no tracks which would enable trains to pass through.

Project Need

There might also not be a road in which vehicles can easily use to move from one point to another. The level crossing is built in such a way that it can be used by both trains and vehicles in a safe and effective manner. This is because the level crossing usually has a flagman who can know when there is an approaching train and clear traffic on the level crossing so that there is no accident or collision. The way in which a level crossing is built makes everyone who uses it feel safer because when there is any approaching train they can be warned and quickly clear the crossing for the train to pass (Register 2007, n.p.). The level crossing serves a unique purpose of warning any vehicles which are using the crossing to clear from it through the flagman warning the vehicles through a traffic light to stop traffic. The train conductors are also confident when crossing a level crossing because they are assured that there is a flagman who can see when a train is approaching and clears traffic on the level crossing.

A feasibility study is done to assess the practical application of a specific project (Mesly 2017, p.130.). A feasibility study on level crossing shows that it serves a practical purpose of being used by both vehicles and trains to cross a specific point. It also saves cost in terms of infrastructure because it utilizes less resources when building a level crossing than it would cost to build a bridge above the crossing. However the increasing number of accidents and safety concerns has seen the practicality of level crossing become more dangerous than it is useful to the people who use it.

A detailed design and development plan described the specific measures and designs which can be used to ensure a specific project is achieved.

In our case nine level crossing between Caulfield and Dandenong will be removed. This will be done by elevating of three sections which are located at the Cranbourne - Pakenham line. The elevated structure which will be new will be designed in a way which can carry diesel freight trains and Metro passenger’s trains. Different construction methods are being utilized in different sections of the rail corridor. The new design will enable there to be reduced congestion as both passengers and freight trains use the same tracks in transport. (Georgakellos & Marcis 2009, p. 239).

Preliminary Design

Currently the maintenance of a level crossing happens very regularly as compared to tracks or roads which meet at other kinds of crossing. This is because a level crossing is used both by vehicles and trains. The continual use of this crossing makes it very prone to wear and tear. The crossing needs to be maintained properly to ensure that there is no chance that the train might get off the tracks due to them being worn out. The infrastructure around a level crossing such as the traffic signs being used and sign posts to warn people who may use it that there is a level crossing need to be visible always. This means that they need to be maintained regularly and this comes at a very high cost. The removal of the level crossing will reduce congestion an open up a lot of space. The space will be maintained and cared for so that it is always green.(Federal Railroad Administration 2006, n.p.). There will also be a fund set aside to cater for the maintaining the free land. Walking and cycling paths will be set aside to ensure that individuals who wish to walk or use their bikes are also accommodates. There will be planting of trees and plants with the elevation of the tracks. This will give room for development of urban forests which are very beneficial to the environment.

System sustainability is the act of ensuring the systems and mechanisms that have been put in place work appropriately. The use of level crossing was a good plan and system at the time but presently it has caused more harm than good. This is displayed through the various accidents that have been visible and recorded at level crossing (Rivanna 2005, n.p.). The problems that have come up from using level crossing have shown that the system does not work effectively anymore. Cases of traffic signals malfunctioning come at a heavy cost because they eventually lead to many accidents, damage of infrastructure and loss of life.  The removal of level crossing is the ultimate sustainability plan in ensuring that trains and vehicles can cross at the same point with ease and without any major safety concerns to be expected.

The new designs to which are to be utilized in this rail corridor will ensure that traffic can always flow smoothly whether there is an approaching train or not. The roads can also be maintained whenever there is a need to ensure that the users of the road always enjoy a smooth ride as they pass across this intersection. The railway tracks can also be easily maintained and sustained. Trains can pass comfortably at this intersection without fear of colliding with any traffic because the crossing is not on the same level. The removal of level crossing will ensure that operations at intersections where roads and railway tracks meet will always be ongoing and the safety levels will be higher since there are no chances of collision since the crossing is not at the same level. The level crossing removal will also ensure that the intersection is used for a long time which makes this approach very sustainable and will last for a long time (Federal Highway Administration 2009, p. 754)

Functional Analysis

System testing is the trial process of a proposed project or system to evaluate its results and applicability in the area of use it is meant to be in (Rex 2002, n.p). The removal of level crossing can be tested through comparing factors such as safety levels, operation levels and functional analysis between a level crossing and an overhead crossing. The proposed project being undertaken can be tested in two ways. One way is to compare the various factors such as safety levels and operational output of a level crossing and a different type of crossing where a road and a railway track meet. The second way for testing the proposed system is to build a bridge such as an overhead bridge in which vehicles can use to cross that intersection. Trains will continue to use the tracks which are under the bridge.

The two ways of system testing can both provide feasible results as to whether the project of removing level crossing can be a success and improve safety and operational levels or if it will be a failure and cause more problems to arise. In system testing the various scenarios of accidents which can occur such as a car running off the bridge onto the tracks can be tested. Such a test can enable the project to establish disaster responsiveness with the utilization of this new endeavor of removing level crossing. Disaster responsiveness will show how safe the project which is removal of level crossing still caters to other kinds of risks which might be observed and how they can be averted or responded to in an appropriate manner to ensure safety is key.

System evaluation and validation is the analysis of a system or project based on some set criteria it is meant to attain to ensure it is successful and it serves the needed purpose (Global Harmonization Task Force 2004, p. 3). In our project which is meant to remove level crossing can be evaluated after testing is done. Based on the analysis and testing enacted based on the project purpose we can be able to evaluate whether removing level crossing will reduces accidents at these points and increase safety at such crossing (Helms 2007, n.p.). After testing the removal of level crossing the congesting levels which were previously observed reduced drastically. This is because the level crossing were replaced by other types of crossing where the trains and vehicles would not meet at any time on the same level. Traffic at these intersections also flows better than it did before. This is because there is no longer a need to stop traffic for an approaching train to be able to pass (Mulcahy 2007, n.p.). They each use their own path on the intersection which improves operational output of the intersection because vehicles and trains can use their paths always. The project meets the set criteria and is valid because it makes it safer for both vehicles and trains to use the intersection. There are less if no cases of accidents at all as the case was while level intersection were being used because they have now been removed.

Feasibility Analysis

System optimization is the improvement of a specific system to ensure it brings more value to its users and always runs smoothly. In our project system optimization comes about because traffic does not need to stop when there is an approaching train. Traffic flows seamlessly on the roads and trains can pass through the intersection without slowing down because there is no traffic blocking the crossing. The inclusion of cycling and walking paths makes the new design a multipurpose project. It will be able to accommodate a lot of people. The project will employ a lot of people who will be trained on the ways of maintaining the project to ensure that it always servers the people. Due to there not being vehicles passing through the intersection at the same level, the number of tracks can be increased to enable more trains to utilize this intersection while on different tracks at the same time. The roads being used by vehicles can be increased to four lanes.

Conclusion

In conclusion we can be able to observe that the project on removing level crossing is a viable endeavor and can achieve very valid results which can be utilized to improve safety and operational levels at these intersections. As level crossing might be easier to construct and use they pose many outlying disadvantages as they continue being used. The malfunctioning of traffic signs which stop or don’t work to alert drivers when a train is approaching can lead to the loss of life and major accidents. Increase in technological threats can be an issue for such crossing in future. The traffic signs are operated by machines which automatically detect an oncoming train (Kerr 2004, n.p.). When these signage systems are hacked they can be altered to work differently and mislead drivers as they cross these level crossing.

Vandalizing of warning signs which are usually placed near level crossing can also cause drivers to use the crossing when a train is approaching because they did not see any signs which warn them of the level crossing. There are also drivers who are in a hurry and try to cross the level crossing even when the flagman or signs have alerted them to stop due to the oncoming train. These individuals put themselves and all other people at risk (Oake, Doherty, Webb & Orietta 2007, n.p.). Even with the presence or absence of level crossing, drivers should always adhere to the road signs in which they have been provided with to ensure any kind of intersection is safe for use and remains operational for a long time to come (Simmons 2008, n.p.). The undertaking of this project displays the positive effects removal of level crossing will have in the transport industry and the safety of all individuals who use or pass through such places.

References

Cirovic G. & Pamucar D. 2012. Decision support model for prioritizing railway level crossing for safety improvements: Application of the neuro-fuzzy system. Experts Systems with Applications. n.p.

Federal Highway Administration. 2009. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Washington DC: United States Department of Transportation. p. 754.

Federal Railroad Administration. 2006. Railroad safety statistics: 2005 annual report. Federal Railroad administration Washington D.C. n.p.

Georgakellos D. A. & Marcis A. M.  2009. Application of the semantic learning approach in feasibility studies preparation training process. Information Systems Management. 26 (3): 231-240.

Global Harmonization Task Force 2004.  – Quality Management Systems – Process Validation Guidance. p. 3.

Helms M. 2007.  Railroad crossing in Wayne Co. to test new technology. Detroit Free Press. n.p.

Kerr J. 2004. Riding a slow train to nowhere. Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. n.p.

Mesly O. 2017. Project feasibility - Tools for uncovering points of vulnerability. Taylor and Francis. CRC Press p. 130.

Mok S. C. & Savage I. 2005. Why Has Safety Improved at Rail-Highway Grade Crossing? Risk Analysis. 25 (4): 867- 881.  

Mulcahy J. 2007. Railroad barrier put to the test. Ann Arbor News. n.p.

Oake D., Doherty B. Webb C. & Orietta G. 2007. 11 die in train crash. The Age. Fairfax Media. n.p.

Register R. L. 2007. Study of pedestrian behavior at public railway crossing. Public Transport Safety Victoria. n.p.

Rex B. 2002. Managing the Testing Process. Wiley Publishing. n.p.

Rivanna C. 2005. National Railway Historical Society. n.p.

Simmons A. M. 2008. Metrolink killer is sentenced to 11 life terms in prison. Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company n.p.

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