LSM TrainSense® (int.pat.pend) Railway Level Crossing (CAAS) Collision Avoidance / Awareness System

LSM TrainSense® Railway Level Crossing (CAAS) Collision Avoidance / Awareness System

LSM TrainSense® (int.pat.pend) is designed to eliminate / avoid interactions / impacts of Rail mounted Vehicles with other Road Vehicles travelling over these Crossings.

LSM TrainSense® Railway Level Crossing (CAAS) Collision Avoidance / Awareness System
Overview / Rail Crossing InteractionsOVERVIEW / RAIL CROSSING INTERACTIONS
Current Mitigation Controls + IssuesCURRENT MITIGATION CONTROLS + ISSUES
Bridge Sense® How It WorksBRIDGE SENSE® HOW IT WORKS
BrdigeSense® Key Features + LSM TrainSense®BRDIGESENSE® KEY FEATURES + LSM TRAINSENSE®
Development / Implementation / CostDEVELOPMENT / IMPLEMENTATION / COST
More Info / Products / VideosMORE INFO / PRODUCTS / VIDEOS
NewsNews
Overview / Rail Crossing Interactions

Collisions  / Vehicle interactions with Railway / Track Vehicles on Rail Level Crossings are a frequent occurrence that cause significant delays along busy traffic routes and damage to critical infrastructure. This can cause prolonged road / rail closures and require expensive repairs in the hundreds of $$million to vehicles, equipment and infrastructure. These collisions can also result in significant injuries / fatalities to the driver(s), pedestrians and others.

Whilst it is clear that collision mitigation is important, current technologies such as boom gates, flashing warning lights / bells (Active) and static (Passive) Stop / Give Way Signs are costly to implement and unreliable.

A few statistics for Australia and Internationally are:

Australia

  • 2024: There are more than 23,500 railway level crossings in Australia. 21% of level crossings "Active" (Boom gates, etc).  The remaining 79% of level crossings are "Passive", meaning the majority of them have only "Stop"’ or "Give Way" signs. 
  • 2024: There are over 1,000 near "hits" (misses) between vehicles and trains at level crossings annually. A near hit is when a train driver applies the emergency brakes and the train narrowly misses colliding with a truck, car, cyclist or pedestrian. The difference between a fatal collision and a near collision at a railway level crossing can be just seconds. Almost every near hit and incident is due to the road user doing the wrong thing, either through error or deliberately.
  • 2024: It can take a fully loaded freight train up to 2.0km to stop after the emergency brakes have been applied.
  • 2024: Until recently, there were around 30 fatalities every year resulting from level crossing collisions. These numbers are declining; however, there are still multiple fatalities every year and collisions resulting in serious injuries.
  • 2024: National Transport Research Organisation (NTRO) rail executive director Natalie Loughborough says that, with more than 23,000 level crossings across Australia, there is no silver bullet to fixing the Australian level crossing safety problem.  
  • 2024: TrackSafe Foundation executive director Heather Neil says the removal of all these crossings is an unrealistic possibility. Loughborough says that if one crossing per week was removed, it would still take 500 years to remove every crossing.  
  • 2024: Whilst Victoria has put in the work, the level crossing toll across Australia remains high. Between July 1, 2014, and December 31, 2022, the NTRO found that there’s been 322 collisions, 49 serious injuries and 39 fatalities at these crossings involving either pedestrians or vehicles. On top of this, there were more than 7,839 near hits (misses) during that period. 
  • 2024: According to ATSB in the 6-year period from July 2015 to June 2021, there were 211 collisions involving rail vehicles and road vehicles at level crossings in Australia (about 35 per year). Of these, 34 of the collisions involved heavy road vehicles (that is, heavy freight vehicles or buses).

Example: Typical example of a HPI (High Potential Incident) / near miss is a recent incident in WA- see LinkedIn article and video

UK / EU

  • 2021: There are nearly 6,000 level crossings on the rail network across England, Wales and Scotland.
  • 2021: Around 96 000 level crossings were reported in the EU-27 Member States, with passive level crossings accounting for around 42% of the total.
  • 2021: In the UK, between 2010 and 2020, there were 16,344 recorded near misses between trains and road vehicles, and 87 collisions leading to 19 fatalities.

USA

  • 2023: There are more than 200,000 Grade (Active and Passive) railway level crossings in the US. 
  • 2024: According to FRA statistics, 2,202 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in 2022.consisting of 269 fatalities and 827 injuries

Canada

  • 2023: There are about 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along more than 40,000 kilometres of Federally - regulated railway tracks in Canada. 
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LSM Technologies posts some reported Railway Level Crossing incidents that have taken place around the World on our LinkedIn page- see this link for more details.

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Current Mitigation Controls + Issues

Railway Level Crossings Safety Mitigation Controls are usually either provided as a “Passive” or “Active” system. 

Current (Passive) Mitigation Controls

Passive mitigation systems are to simply provide static warning signs such as Stop or Give Way to warn the driver to be aware / stop and check that there is no approaching Rail Vehicle before proceeding over the Crossing.

Known issues with these mitigation controls are:

  • Most of these Crossings are remote where there is no power available for Active warnings.
  • Maintenance is costly due to remoteness should Active mitigation systems be installed.  
  • Approaching Road User may not become aware of the Crossing, especially when travelling at speed, if distracted or poor visibility (night, heavy rain, on tight bends, obscured - e.g. trees).
  • Human distraction / error, or even deliberate crossing.

Current (Active) Mitigation Controls

Active systems are where Trackside Switches are positioned on the track where a Train will trigger large Flashing Lights / Audible Bells and some Railway Crossing also have Boom Gates that close.  

Known issues with these mitigation controls are:

  • Road Vehicle User blatantly disregard to audible and visual warnings (no Boom Gates).
  • Road User travelling at speed, distraction of poor visibility (night, heavy rain, on tight bends, obscured - e.g. trees).
  • In- Vehicle noise (music, etc)- cannot hear Crossing audible warnings. 
  • Human distraction / error, or even deliberate crossing.
  • Maintenance is costly due to remoteness should Active mitigation systems be installed.   

Error / Distraction / Complacency / Situational Awareness

Human Error and other causations are contributing factors as to why existing "Passive" and "Active" types of mitigation controls for Railway Level Crossings are not affective solutions:  

  • Wherever there is a need for "human" interaction, then there is a significant potential for an incident due to delay in responding / taking action.
  • Human Error (see link to NRSPP) and Distraction (see link to NRSPP) are perceived as big issues.
  • Complacency is a contributing factor, where a Driver can become "blinded" (does not "see") warning signs or even flashing lights and even boom gates.  
  • Situation Awareness > Decision > Acton - Response (see this link) takes time to implement corrective action. It is known that a driver can take between 1.5- 2.5 seconds (or longer with fatigue) to become Aware there is a need to take action. Thinking time is required to make a Decision for corrective Action (eg start to apply brakes). For a Truck and single Trailer, it takes about 4.6 seconds to bring the Rig to a stop - longer for larger Rigs
  • At 100 km / hour in- dry conditions, stopping distance can be >200 metres, With longer Rigs, wet conditions, braking distance can again take a lot longer.
  • Utilising a fully autonomous technology of LSM TrainSense® provides the Driver with a pre-warning of the presence of a Railway Level Crossing and can initiate deceleration or even AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking) if required.

Other Mitigation Controls

As described in our LSM BridgeSense® Over - Height / Dimensions CAAS mitigation control Google Maps Apps, In- vehicle Navigational devices and Online Route Planning systems are available for depicting Railway Level Crossing's. Please see our LSM BrigeSense® section to read why these systems are believed to be unreliable and ineffective as mitigation controls.

Heavy Penalties

Other significant countermeasures by Regulators have been to apply heavy $$ penalties, removal of offending Trucks / Drivers from operating and even threatening incarceration of Transport Operators / Driver for breaching current mitigation controls.

However, whilst such penalties make act as some determent, they are not a "proactive" mitigation control, and are applied "after- the fact" of a possible catastrophic event, severe costs damage / repairs / disruptioninjury / fatality and really will not be a permanent "fix" to stopping On Road and Rail Track Vehicle interactions around the world.

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LSM TrainSense® How- It- Works

LSM TrainSense®- Device Functionality

As detailed in the previous section, Error / Distraction / Complacency / Situational Awareness are perceived as some of the most significant hurdles to overcome to avoid interaction between On- Road and On- Track Vehicles at Railway Level Crossings.

Subsequently, it is apparent that a proactive Vehicle In- Cabin Warning Device concept such as LSM TrainSense® that provides (In- Cabin) visual and audible alerts to the Driver as they approach a Railway Level Crossing, could be the ideal solution.

To the right is a schematic of our LSM TrainSense® mitigation technology, with the following overview / functionality of the Device concept.

  • LSM TrainSense® would be suitable to provide a Driver warnings for both "Passive" and "Active" Railway Level Crossings. 
  • The concept is a small “Tag” (like a Toll Tag) Device that is permanently affixed inside the Cabin of the Vehicle, located say behind the Cabin Rearview Mirror.
  • The Device contains a stored Database of all Mapped Railway Level Crossing GPS Co-ordinates.    
  • Once the vehicle is moving, the Device constantly compares the stored Railway Level Crossing GPS co-ordinates with Vehicle Location GPS co-ordinates.
  • Railway Level Crossing GPS Co-ordinates are compared dynamically (as the vehicle travels) without any Pre - route planning, App (requires GSM / Data Plan) or Driver intervention required.   
  • Should a Road Vehicle approach a Rail Level Crossing on its travel route, the Device will provide audible and visual warnings to the Driver. Warnings can be programmed into the Device Tag to occur multiple times and at any distance before the Rail Level Crossing.

Other- Capabilities

The LSM TrainSense® concept can provide other capabilities / functions such as:

  • Where the Device Tag has GSM Data (Sim Card) Telematics, then alerts / warnings and other data can also be sent back to base to LSM FSM® Fleet Safety (Tracking) Manager or to an external ICloud Database.
  • The standard LSM TrainSense® does not determine if there is an “active” Rail Vehicle on the Track approaching the Railway Level Crossing. However, where Trackside Signal Activated Transmitters are used, they could also send a transmission to the LSM TrainSense® to alert the On- road Vehicle Driver of an approaching Rail Track Vehicle.
  • Non - compliance / ignoring (and other data) of warnings can also be stored on the Device Tag. 
  • The LSM TrainSense® concept can also be configured to receive communications from Trackside Sensor Transmitters that can be used to send a signal to the on- Road Vehicle In- Cabin Device to warn the Vehicle Driver of an approaching Rail Track Vehicle on a Level Crossing (please see the notes below as this is not necessarily recommended).
  • Can be programmed to Decelerate and / or apply Braking to mitigate an interaction if the Driver ignores the Device warnings - even applying AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking).     
  • Other functions / operations for the LSM TrainSense® concept can be considered.

TrackSide Sensor Transmitters / Remote Sign Nodes

As mentioned above, Trackside Sensor Transmitters that can be used to:

  • Send a signal to the LSM TrainSense® to alert the Vehicle Driver of an approaching Rail Track Vehicle on a Level Crossing.
  • Convert "passive" Railway Level Crossings into "active" by the TrackSide Sensor Transmitter activating additionally installed Crossing Flashing Lights / Audible Alarms when a Train / Rail Vehicle approaches a Crossing.
  • Activate (via RF / Lowra communication) other Audible / Visual warning signs at a distance (nodes) on the road before the Crossing to act as pre - warning as an On- road Vehicle approaches the Crossing.   

Certainly, such TrackSide Sensor Transmitters would augment the LSM TrainSense® primary Driver alert features, but we feel that there are some other risk factors that may need to be considered:

These are: 

  • Usually such "passive" Railway Level Crossings are in remote areas where there is no conventional power and so rely on Solar Power / Battery sources, which could cause power reliability issues.
  • Installation of such Devices as well as the Audible / Visual Signage will be costly- note >70% of Australian Railway Level Crossings are in remote regions and are "passive".
  • Maintenance will be expensive and require additional support infrastructure / personnel resources, to manage  / service / repair these Devices. 
  • GSM Data / Telematics will be needed to provide back - to base warnings should the devices fail. This again will require GSM Data costs, additional support / management / monitoring resources and personnel with associated costs.
  •  If the Devices (Transmitters / Sensors / Active Signage) fail then the "fail- to- safe" goes back to the traditional "passive" Stop / Give Way signs which really defeats the purpose of the installed Device. 
  • The active Warning Signage success is reliant on an observant / undistracted Driver noting the remote Node(s) and Visual Pre- warnings (where installed) and especially when travelling at speed.   
  • Does not address the "Human Errors" associated with Distraction / Complacency / Situational Awareness and Response Time.
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LSM TrainSense® concept- please click to enlarge
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The most significant risk is where a Driver may develop the expectation is that if the active Warning Signage and the remote Nodes fail back to a passive state, that it is safe to continue at speed believing that there is not a Train  / Rail Vehicle approaching the Crossing.

Consequently, we hold the belief that the most effective approach to mitigate the impact of an accident is to equip a Vehicle In- Cabin Device, such as LSM TrainSense®, with audible and visual alerts to the driver, and to trigger these alerts as the On-road Vehicle approaches a Railway Crossing, regardless of whether a Train or Rail Vehicle is to cross or not.

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LSM TrainSense® Key Features + BridgeSense®

LSM TrainSense®- Key Features

Some of the Key Benefits/ Features for the LSM TrainSense® concept are as follows:  

  • The TrainSense® is a standalone mitigation device that does not require any ongoing subscription or telemetry costs. 
  • No ongoing maintenance, no additional support resources, infrastructure or personnel costs are required. If the LSM TrainSense® Device fails- then it is replaced quickly and simply at low cost.
  • GPS Satellite (not Sat Navigation or App) network is reliable, accurate and covers all of Australia and the World
  • Mapped data can be manually updated with data changes or adding additional coordinates for new Overhead structures via either a ESim or BT via PDA / Phone App. Or with the telematics option, can be updated automatically over - the - air
  • It is not a Sat Navigation / Telematics device that requires pre - route planning. LSM TrainSense® simply compares stored Railway Level Crossing GPS coordinate in the Device Tag (or ICloud Database) against the Vehicle’s / Load stored Height data of the vehicle as it is motion- dynamically.  
  • Other features can be designed into the Device Tag, such as telematics for back- to -base reporting (eg LSM FSM® Fleet Safety (Tracking) Manager)
  • Can be used to provide Deceleration of the vehicle, Braking or even AEB is alerts are ignored.

LSM BridgeSense® + LSM TrainSense® Combination

As with Railway Level Crossing incidents, the costs for Over - Height Bridge / Structure Impacts also cause many $100's of millions for maintenance, emergency response, repairs, traffic delays and injury / fatalities, etc.

Subsequently, it is pragmatic and cost-effective to combine the functions / features of both LSM BridgeSense® + LSM TrainSense® technology's into a Singular Safety Mitigation Device.

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BrdigeSense® Key Features- + LSM TrainSense®

IMPLEMENTATION / COST / SAVINGS

To ensure the effectiveness of the LSM TrainSense®, it is envisaged that the Vehicle In- Cabin Device / Tag would need to be mandated for every On- Road Heavy / Commercial Vehicle (eg Trucks). 

Mandating can simply be provided via legislation / ADR that all On- road Commercial Vehicles Trucks / Heavy Vehicles (new and existing) are to be fitted with LSM TrainSense® Tag Device.

It is estimated that the LSM TrainSense® would be a sale price of about AU$25 / each.

Even if LSM TrainSense® mitigated 50% of On- road Vehicle Railway Level Crossing incidents, the savings to the taxpayer / community would far exceed the device implementation costs.

Not only would LSM TrainSense® provide significant savings (traffic delays, repairs, emergency response, etc and lives) but also the costs for the LSM TrainSense® can be recoverable.    

Concept for cost recovery for the LSM TrainSense® would be: 

  • An increase in Truck registration to recover the outlay for the LSM TrainSense® Vehicle In- Cabin Tag Device.
  • With a replacement service life of say three (3) years, then the impost to Operator on registration costs of would be calculated as AU$8 / annum and should not be seen as a significant impost.
  • In addition, the concept could be integrated into Vehicles at manufacture.
  • It should also be considered that the LSM TrainSense and the LSM BridgeSense® be developed as a Singular Vehicle In- Cabin Device that can provide for both On- Road (Over + Under) Bridge and Railway Level Crossing Safety Mitigation Control.

DEVELOPMENT / COST

To be effective, it is envisaged that LSM TrainSense® requires to be installed on all respective Commercial Vehicles and as such, the support of the respective Australian (or International) Government / Authorities is needed to accept /  to fund the development of LSM TrainSense®.

At this time, it is envisaged that the development costs to be estimated at $1- $2 million and LSM Technologies are seeking such funding at the moment- please Contact Us to start the conversation.

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Phone+61 7 3725 8100
Emailtech@lsmtechnologies.com.au
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