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Passenger Trains > Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings

Date: 06/10/19 18:57
Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: Ntrainfan

Hello all, I had the pleasure of riding the Pacific Surfliner south from Moorpark to San Diego a couple of weeks ago. I noticed several grade crossings, particularly in the Orange County area, that seemed to be protected by 4-quadrant crossing gates. The engineer blew the horn at some of these but not all of them. Is there a movement afoot to put a lot of these 4-quadrant grade crossings on the Pacific Surfliner route, and do these types of grade crossings usually permit trains to cross them without sounding their horns? Thanks to all in advance for the information.

Date: 06/10/19 19:36
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: railstiesballast

In summary: yes.
The FRA requires warning at crossings, the whistle signal traditionally qualifes.
Regulations have been adopted whereby the RR can be exempted from sounding the whistle if other safety measures are added to the crossing such as 4-quad gates.  
The way it works in practice is the motivated party is the city/county who owns the crossing and responds to public imput to make the noise go away.
They fund the design and installation and arrange the acceptance by the FRA, the RR does the actual signal work under contract because they have to control their own signal system design and operation.
Under this set of regulations the RR cannot be found at fault for not sounding the whistle, that decision belongs to the city/county that initiated the change.
RR rules require any engineer to sound the whistle under some circumstances such as pedestrains/tresspassers nearby and roadway workers on the right of way.
While working in the engineering department I always appreciated a bit of whistle as a train approached, I knew they had seen me and I had seen them.

Date: 06/10/19 20:36
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: KEL27

I believe 4-quadrants are also required in 90-mph territory. Can someone else clarify?

Date: 06/10/19 21:12
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: cctgm

No 4 quadrant gates are not required in 90 mph territory , good idea but no FRA regulation. FRA looks at night speed as 95 mph plus and  then has regulation for 4 quadrant gates. They also recommend sealed corridors for over 95 mph and of course elimination of grade crossing.  For a Quite zone which is paid for by the governmental entity and then they assume the liability at the crossing 4 Quad gates with center median or center restriction must be installed.  Again the engineers must sound horn for MOW and for anyone they feel may be at risk or trespassing as a warning. Remember 4 quad gates do not fix stupid.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/19 21:16 by cctgm.

Date: 06/10/19 22:10
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: MojaveBill

Have seen those from the TGV entering Paris, along with steel rods hanging from the gates...

Bill Deaver
Mojave, CA

Date: 06/11/19 01:04
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: OTG

Following the Glendale derailment, Metrolink has made a huge push in upgrading all their right of way to "sealed corridor" standards.  This includes fencing along the ROW, access gates at crossings to prevent carsfrom driving down the ROW, and 4-quadrant gates to prevent people entering the crossing while a train is approaching.  As far as I know these upgrades have been made to all of the territory Metrolink runs their own trains on within the Los Angeles urban jungle, which includes Orange County.  Only some of the more rural areas along the Lancaster, Ventura, and Perris lines haven't been upgraded.

Once the upgrades have been made to an area the crossings qualify to be certified as a quiet zone, but Metrolink itself will not petition with the FRA to certify them.  Instead, they let the individual cities file the petition (which includes accepting certain liability for accidents).  Subsequently, some cities/crossings are quiet zones, and others aren't.  It's based on what the individual city wants.

Date: 06/11/19 04:16
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: Passfanatic

Here in the Northeast, Amtrak trains that use the Empire Corridor do 110 mph for a few miles between Hudson and Albany and I think between Albany and Schenectady past multiple grade crossings that have only two gates that go over the road.

I think where Amtrak upgraded to 110 mph on the Springfield Line, there are still numerous grade crossings that don’t have quadrant gates. Between Mill River Interlocking in New Haven and Wallingford, there are many grade crossings where Amtrak trains do 90 mph.

Posted from iPhone

Date: 06/11/19 07:57
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: Mudrock

The California PUC has been extremely slow is approving crossings for no horns.  South Santa Ana is the only area that still had horns but has yet to be approved,



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/19 12:23 by Mudrock.

Date: 06/11/19 14:14
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: atsf121

To add some more on the FRA requirements, you can get a quiet zone without 4 gates on a two lane road crossing (one lane in each direction). When UTA Frontrunner was built, they made improvements at all of the grade crossings that remained opened and closed a few. Some crossings have gates covering both sides of the crossing for the same lane (making a quad or tri gate setup). But where possible they built a long raised median that prevents a driver from swerving out and around a lane of cars and zigzagging through the crossing gates. You could still try, but the medians are right up to the gates so it doesn’t leave a lot of zag room, even with two tracks. I don’t remember what the minimum length for the median had to be, but you can tell where they didn’t have enough room because then you have the extra gates. They also built fencing for the pedestrian sidewalks that forces you to do an S turn - the theory being you can see down the tracks in each direction. Believe there are also rules about signs and such before you can apply for the quiet zone.

Frontrunner currently has the longest continuous quiet zone. But on the days there is trackwork, gate problems, or some other reason to use the horn, the Facebook group for my town lights up with people asking why aren’t the trains quiet. Can’t win with some people!


Posted from iPhone

Date: 06/11/19 21:43
Re: Orange County 4-quadrant grade crossings
Author: darkcloud

To give an idea of how massive an effort it would be for Metrolink to remove all grade crossings in their teritory, consider that they currently have more than 350 grade crossings in over 400 miles of rail lines.   

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