How early do you need to arrive at a station where there are level crossings

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by C P, 7 Nov 2019.

  1. swills

    swills Established Member

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    If the line has been resignalled in the past few years, then had they left the box in situ, the signal will not have been allowed so close to the crossing, so it would have been moved to a new location, therefore whether the Signaller was at the station, or in a location 100 miles away, the result would be the same, the Signaller will get an 'alarm' activated by a track circuit, which is the time the barriers must be lowered in order for the train the get green aspects, it has nothing to do with less staff, nor cost cutting, or even fewer signals ! It is not Network Rails fault, but the rules for signal sighting / location etc have changed as the years have gone on, what was 'acceptable' in the 50's and 60's is no longer tolerated, and I think you will find that Signallers DO care when they put the barriers down, but there is a limit on how long they can wait without causing delay to the train, and if waiting too long, and delaying too many trains ending up on a discipline charge ! You say the train for Lancaster would be 'held' if people were stuck on the wrong side, this would then make the train late, which then opens the can of worms of who pays for the delay NR or the TOC for holding the train ? If it's delayed by 3 mins, might suffer loss of path, then get stuck behind an on time train, and then even later, connections lost, after 15 mins, delay and repay kicks in... more money, all because some people could not get to the station in time !
    Even at Stations with no crossings you see it everyday, in the peak hours, people running from the Car Park, onto the platform with seconds to spare before the train goes ! you can see the panic in their eyes sometimes, and then get annoyed if the train goes without them :)
    Looking at the line up for Bare Lane, it seems a very random timetable, sometimes there are 3 an hour, sometimes 4, and at one point 6 in the hour, looking at maps, on the way to Morecombe the barriers should be down and signal cleared before the train passes Morecombe South Junction on the Down, and when it's leaving Morecombe on the in the Up direction.
     
  2. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    It's not just main lines though. Take Bare Lane - on a pretty sparsely used branchline. The barriers are down for a ridiculous amount of time due to the signalling/operational procedures as it's basically two very long sidings. When ready to depart Morecambe, the driver activates a push button to close the barriers and the train then takes about 5 minutes to get there. Similar with trains heading towards Morecambe, because the "block" is so long, the barriers are lowered when the train is 5 minutes or so away. This is a branchline with a very low speed limit and all passenger trains stop at Bare Lane anyway so speeds over the crossing are little more than walking pace. If there are two trains on the line, then it's easy for the barriers to be down for 10 minutes - sometimes the trains are in opposite directions, sometimes the same direction. If something unusual is around, i.e. the NR yellow inspection train, then the barriers can be down even longer. The record I've been stuck there was 23 minutes for just two trains - the Morecambe>Lancaster sprinter and then the yellow train heading towards Morecambe which had come off the Hest Bank branch which had been held whilst waiting for the sprinter to clear the crossover. Barriers down for 23 minutes on a slow branch line simply can't be excused. The signallers/management obviously don't give a toss about pedestrians and road users. They just do what they want "because they can".

    But, talking about main line, it's quite common for the barriers to be down at Hest Bank and Bolton Le Sands for 30-45 minutes. I think the signallers forget they're down sometimes. Just after lunch is usually a bad time. No fun being stood there waiting to walk across and watching the trains pass every 5-10 minutes without the barriers being lifted. At least they're fairly quiet/lowly used crossings, but it's still a pain for the few who have to use them.
     
  3. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    Yes, but what constitutes "on time"? If the barriers are unexpectedly down for 23 minutes, where they really not "on time" if they arrived and found themselves on the wrong side of the crossing, maybe 10/15 minutes ahead of the departure time?

    What about when the train arrives on the other platform unexpectedly? Before they changed the Morecambe branch, it was a standard platform, one side towards Morecambe, the other side towards Lancaster - just like most stations. People knew which platform their train would leave from and factor that into their planning. Now, it's a free for all. Both platforms are bi-directional. Most trains use the promenade side of the station. But, the 2 trains per day that continue to Heysham have to use the Torrisholme side. Then, sometimes there are two trains on the branch at the same time, so one uses the promenade side, the other has to use the Torrisholme side. Then, randomly, even though there's only one train, it's signalled for the Torrisholme side instead of the promenade side (presumably for operational reasons). So, basically, passengers using Bare Lane don't necessarily know which platform their train will be using before they get there and look at the screens - regular passengers will probably know as it's probably the same each day if they use the same train, but more occasional/random passengers won't.

    When stations on the Settle/Carlisle line have pedestrian walkways to cross the track to access the opposite platform (with faster trains, including freight), it seems crazy that there is no such provision on a much slow branchline with a busier station where the need to cross is greater.
     
  4. janb

    janb Member

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    It has improved recently but the other key issue with Bare Lane is that you can know which platform your train is supposed to be, look at screens etc, but if the signaller puts it on the wrong line (which has happened several times) you only find out when you see the train.
     
  5. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    And then it's too late to switch platforms as the barriers will be down and there's no "human" to either raise them or hold the train.

    When they were first introduced (replaced two sets of gates, one for traffic and one for pedestrians/passengers) and the barriers were controlled from the signalbox, the signalman would often raise them just a few feet, enough to let passengers to get across and then close them again, - all very quick as they were never open high enough for traffic. That was the "new" way. Before then, when it was gates, the traffic gates were closed a lot sooner and the pedestrian gates were only locked at the last minute, so foot passengers could continue to cross even when vehicles were stopped. I remember seeing the signalman unlocking the pedestrian gates for a few seconds if he became aware of a passenger stuck at the wrong side to allow them across. No doubt, that kind of helpfulness was stopped long ago.
     
  6. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    And those "ways" was against the Rules set down in the Rule Book, and could have resulted in him losing his job!

    My job as a signalman was to run trains in a safe manner and in accordance with the Rule Book, and if that unfortunately delayed some passengers at a level crossing then tough. Safety came first!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 13 Nov 2019
  7. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    When the train departs at the advertised time of the public timetable

    It is the responsibility of the passenger to be on the platform and on the train for this to happen
     
  8. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    And no doubt, this is not a safe system of work/operation in the 21st century...
     
  9. ashkeba

    ashkeba Member

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    Yes, flaming passengers, not coping with the railway operators inserting an unavoidable random length undocumented delay in their journey between the station bus stop or parking or ticketing and the platform(!)

    Build the footbridges or reopen the barrow crossings, please.
     
  10. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

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    Curious. It shouldn't, then or now, be possible to raise the barriers at all with the protecting signals cleared, for good reason too. Wicket gates, on the other hand, were/are often not interlocked with the protecting signals, so could be left unlocked or not locked until the last minute.
     
  11. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    It is the responsibility of the railway to allow passengers who have arrived at the station in plenty of time to access the platform. And going back to the OP, for a station that size eight minutes before scheduled departure is plenty of time. If the railway operation makes access to the platform impossible, then the railway should provide a subway or a footbridge.
     
  12. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    How can a passenger account for random/unexpected instances of the level crossing being closed for 20+ minutes beforehand? Do they have to get there 30 minutes before "just in case"? That's the whole point of this thread - what is a reasonable amount of time? If the gates have been closed for a ridiculous/unexpected amount of time, surely the train should be held to allow for passengers caught out through an operational issue rather than any fault of their own?
     
  13. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    And when EXACTLY do they arrive at "the station"?
    As far as I am concerned they do not arrive at the station until they cross the threshold of the station, and that is NOT the car park.
    Does anyone know if this is designated in any legislation? Somehow I doubt it.
     
  14. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Oh dear...

    Assuming one travels fairly regularly from their local station, surely it is incumbent for them to know, or find out how the local operations work...?

    So yes, if it is known that the barriers come down 30mins before the train is due and there is no means of access, then one has to be on the platform 30mins early.

    Perhaps you could write to your local MP/TOC and state your case for a footbridge/underpass
     
  15. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    No, because that will affect more people further down the line, as has already been explained.
    Plus in most signalling situations it would not be possible to raise the barriers because of the interlocking.

    And frankly I do not believe that any barriers will be down for 20 minutes continuously, unless they have failed totally.
     
  16. BlockBackBobby

    BlockBackBobby Member

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    In which case one can get forget catching a train. One can get there some other way. One can.
     
  17. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    1. Who said anything about travelling fairly regularly? If this happened the first time someone attempted to use the train instead of driving, then you can be pretty sure it would also be the last time.
    2. No, it isn't incumbent on them to find out how the local operations work. Rail passengers, or indeed any customer of any business has no reason to be interested in the operational details of the business.

    Where is this information easily available for the potential passenger to find? Are they given the information when they plan a journey on the NRE website? Is it given on the printed timetables for services where relevant? Is it on the online live departure information screens? The railway should be proactively providing the necessary information, not making every rail trip an exercise in operational research. The railway is, supposedly, a service industry.

    Oh dear indeed.
     
  18. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Do you mean Bare Lane on the Leeds - Morecambe line?

    A quick view on RTT and NRE shows very frequent services on the line - every 10 or 15min - how can that be a sparsely used branch line?
     
  19. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    What about people who don't "do" a regular journey?

    How is anyone supposed to know when the yellow NR inspection train is going to come through to cause the 20+ minute closure?

    How is even a regular passenger going to know when operational reasons (or a mistake by a signaller) is going to put their regular train on the other platform?
     
  20. aye2beeviasea

    aye2beeviasea Member

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    What some posters on this thread are saying is that the passenger needs to allow 'enough' time but that the poor little railway industry can't possibly be expected to tell the passenger what 'enough' time actually is.

    The only sensible answer is to set a specific latest arrival time at the station, and if a passenger arrives before then but can't get to the train because of crossing gates being down then they should be entitled to delay repay/compensation as if the train didn't stop to pick up passengers.
     
  21. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    Yes, but knowing the railway industry, they'd probably set the time threshold at something crazy like 30 minutes, so it would be pointless. I'd suggest 10 minutes is reasonable, certainly no longer. Signallers/controllers would have to work around a more realistic (for passengers) timescale.
     
  22. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    Here's a couple of questions for you:

    I control a level crossing at a station 120 miles from my work station. How am I supposed to know whether some late running passenger has not been able to get to the platform?

    If there is no station car park, only on-street parking the other side of a level crossing, would your "rules" still apply?

    Where is your evidence in legislation that arriving at a station car park is treated as arriving at the station?

    How are you going to alter signalling regulations and interlocking construction to allow for your supposed "problem"?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 13 Nov 2019
  23. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    I signalled the various NR Inspection trains across my level crossing numerous times and not once did I have to lower my barriers for any longer period than for a normal freight train.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 13 Nov 2019
  24. ashkeba

    ashkeba Member

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    There are plenty of stations with ticket sales on only one platform and some have level crossings between that and the other platform. Foxton, Elmswell and Watlington are three in Anglia. I think Waterbeach and even for a short while Downham Market were the same, but ticket machines were put on the other platforms because of so many complaints. Surely you have arrived at "the station" when you are on the platform or in the building buying a ticket?

    You could easily have crossed the threshold of the station - just not reached the correct platform. I would solve this by installing footbridges but no-one wants to spend that money.
     
  25. aye2beeviasea

    aye2beeviasea Member

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    Either you find a way, or you compensate passengers who arrive at the station on time but miss their trains because of the crossing closure.
     
  26. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    Thank you, that confirms my belief as stated earlier, that if the car park is the other side of a level crossing you haven't arrived at the station, and neither NR nor the ToC are liable.
     
  27. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    This is getting boring. Arrive at the station IN PLENTY OF TIME. Allow for any eventualities...

    It is NOT up to signallers to "find a way" or to "compensate passengers"
     
  28. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Define "Plenty of time" - 10 mins, 15 mins, 30 mins, 60 mins, 2 hours......????
     
  29. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Depends on things like frequency of service, local knowledge, how lazy/proactive you are, reason for travel, how you plan to get to the station and timescale, road conditions (e.g. if you are arriving by bicycle/car/taxi/bus/scooter/skateboard - or whatever), whether you hold a season or need to purchase a ticket

    There is not a definitive answer to your question
     
  30. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    It is not a signallers job to observe passengers. It is their job to safely and correctly signal trains according to the Rule Book. If passengers cannot allow themselves enough time to get to the station, then frankly, tough.
    Signallers have enough to do with the added stress of doing this.

    It is quite obvious that there are contributors to this subject who do not have a clue what signallers have to do to signal trains and to control level crossings. They are one of the areas that cause the most stress and the most abuse.
     

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