A Smooth Ride –– Protecting Both The Vehicle And The Infrastructure 

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Anti-trespassing panels are a simple but effective deterrent to pedestrian trespass.
L.B. Foster

ATLANTA –– From the June 2024 Issue of Railway Track & Structures –– A Vendor Product Spotlight on Grade Crossing Surfacing Materials.

Recognized by those both inside and outside of the rail and track maintenance sphere, grade crossings are essential to ensuring a smooth flow of traffic for trains and emergency and civilian vehicles. Proper upkeep is important, and what follows is a smorgasbord of grade crossing products and services to fulfill those needs. 

L.B. Foster grade crossing safety solutions include a variety of smart obstacle detection and anti-trespass deterrent systems. L.B. Foster markets and sells its innovative Anti-Trespass Panels (ATPs) throughout North America as a proven environmentally friendly deterrent system to pedestrian trespass. Anti-Trespass Panels (ATPs) have been shown to be a simple but effective deterrent to pedestrian trespass on highway-rail grade crossings, rail yard entrances and in specific areas such as transit terminal platforms. Applicable in many situations, ATPs work best around fixed structures such as end of station platforms, walls, fencing or dense vegetation to prevent pedestrians from walking around the panels.  

“Since being introduced in 2017, initial acceptance has been among passenger rail systems with several transit agencies installing ATPs on various sites along their lines. Interest has also been growing among NA transits and state DOTs,” comments Sheen Fong, Director of Technical Sales. In mid-2019, the FRA published results of a study done to determine the effectiveness of deploying ATPs to reduce pedestrian trespass. Their researchers collected and analyzed video data for a total of 60 days (30 days before and 30 days after the ATPs were installed) to better understand the effectiveness of the ATPs on changing pedestrian behavior. Their analysis demonstrated that the ATPs successfully reduced the amount of pedestrian trespass onto the railroad right-of-way, observing that pedestrian trespass was reduced by 38%, indicating that use of the ATPs were effective in improving pedestrian behavior. Developed and engineered to minimize installation time, the anti-trespass panel system provides an innovative solution to meet the safety requirements of railway administrations worldwide. Made from 100% recycled rubber, the ATPs are environmentally friendly and come with a 15-year warranty. 

Jim Overfelt, Director of Sales and Marketing, told RT&S that HiRail has received requests for specialized products to fit a variety of fastening systems and track configurations. He went on to say that “the market remains strong for grade crossings and we are cautiously optimistic that this will continue for the forseeable future.” Indeed, HiRail provides products for new transit start-ups and those extending their current systems. 

HiRail offers a line of rubber grade crossing surfaces. Among these are its HiRail, PedeRail, and HiRail Rail Seal. The HiRail Rail Seal is a rubber product that works with concrete crossings or asphalt. It fits most timber or concrete ties using any type of rail fastener. HiRail’s PedeRail is a specific crossing surface manufactured with a raised diamond surface designed with pedestrians in mind. It meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Their namesake HiRail full-depth rubber crossing systems come in lagged and lagless designs, with lagless lessening crosstie degradation over time and allowing for installation on both concrete and steel ties. These HiRail products can also be recycled. 

Hitachi Rail‘s Model 95 Highway-Crossing Gate Mechanism is the industry standard for simplicity, reliability, durability, ease of maintenance, and value. Its design culminates in thoughtful innovation, meeting or exceeding the stringent specifications set by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) and the American Association of Highway Officials. The Model 95-E offers railroads a superior quality mechanism that can adapt to diverse crossing configurations. With a focus on safety and value, the Model 95 series incorporates modern techniques and materials, featuring a modular design that simplifies service and maintenance. This commitment to quality ensures that Hitachi Rail’s gate mechanisms are not just industry standards but also a critical component in maintaining the safety and efficiency of railroad crossings. 

The SIL-2 solid-state motor controller offers dependable performance and enhanced safety features. Its innovative design effectively eliminates dust, thereby increasing the reliability and longevity of the system for the customer. The Model 95-E Gate Mechanism, renowned for its robustness, is supported by Hitachi Rail’s field support and product engineering services, ensuring the product performs optimally throughout its lifecycle. Moreover, the Model 95-E Highway Gate Crossing Mechanism’s versatility is evident in its availability in various configurations, making it an ideal solution for diverse crossing requirements. Whether it’s a standard highway crossing, a combined highway and pedestrian gate, pedestrian sidewalk or a sophisticated “Four-Quadrant Gate” system, the Model 95-E meets the specific needs of each unique crossing situation, providing a tailored and efficient solution for traffic management and safety. 

OMNI Rail’s 2024 priorities have focused on supply chain and inventory management to ensure short and predictable lead times for its US and Canadian customers. Rob Greenside at Omni Rail told RT&S, “Building on a strong 2023 year-end, we also expanded our engineering staff and technical support resources to deliver new rubber and concrete products that include ‘design and build’ projects requiring complex panel structures (concrete, rubber, steel, composite combinations).” OMNI offers concrete/rubber flange and full depth virgin rubber panel products for every load condition, tie size, rail size and fastener type installed in the US and Canada track system base. All OMNI products are ‘Buy America Compliant’. OMNI is vertically integrated to manufacture both virgin rubber, concrete, and steel products serviced from 4 convenient factory locations. Production and custom panels are offered less than 8’, 8.125, 9’ and 10’ and 12’, including custom fastener design modifications for easy install clearance. Greenside says, “We typically manage multiple project deliveries scaling to greater than 1,000 track feet per month.” With manufacturing locations in McHenry, IL, Lincolnton, NC and Weatherford, TX., 

OMNI supports combination concrete gauge installations, coupled with low-cost field side solutions that use our molded virgin rubber products.  

Its ”solid cross section molded virgin rubber” panel flanges are embedded for continuous full-length support or installed as a separate load bearing flangeway filler. Both carry a 6-year, no-tear warranty.  OMNI’s core product design rules incorporate rubber as a load bearing component to provide extreme rail head protection, ADA and/or customer specified dimensional control, avoiding tears or separation of the rubber flange for the design life of the panel. Some new product additions for this year include: VRA/2 molded rubber product, spike or clamp to rail install for asphalt or concrete road interface. A reduced cross section version of OMNI’s VRA product with a 20-year field history; Combinations of concrete grade panels with several rubber field panel or flangeway rubber configurations to match customer cost and performance objectives; Molded ‘yellow rubber’ safety tread surfaces on full depth rubber panels or steel reinforced panels; Expanded concrete tub crossing products that include 11’ wide heavy load application tubs (Tra-Cast lll). This product expands the capabilities of our Tra-cast I and Tra-cast II products that have more than a decade of field service (curves to 30 degrees). 

Special application products include steel reinforced heavy load crossings that are a unique product relying on custom rubber surfaces bonded to steel structures. Steel reinforced panels are available for a wide range of rail sizes and easily extend performance for non- standard wide or extreme narrow-gauge applications. With AARM-1003 certified factories, all OMNI products are backed by a six-year limited factory warranty from the date of installation. 

Among it’s grade crossing portfolio, HiRail offers HiRail, PedeRail, and HiRail Rail Seal.

Photo courtesty HiRail.

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