Mile End Pedestrian Crossing Closure

Second quarter of CCTV results released

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Please find an update below from ARTC regarding behaviour at Mile End pedestrian crossing captured from the most recent round of CCTV footage (captured 16 March to 20 May 2016).

While there were relatively few train blockages of the crossing during this period (4 blockages for the 3 month period), we have unfortunately identified dangerous behaviour returning to the crossing.

As you will see in the links to the CCTV footage provided below, this has included two instances of individuals climbing through and between the wagons of an idling freight train, awaiting a green light to depart. We have also captured vision of trespass – with individuals walking deep into the rail corridor and around the rear of freight trains.

Each of these incidents could have resulted in a fatality or serious harm to a member of the community.

Unfortunately, these are exactly the dangerous behaviours that we have been concerned by and that led to us proposing to temporarily close Mile End crossing earlier this year (until the Torrens Junction project to separate passenger and freight rail lines is completed). Particularly noting there is a grade separated pedestrian underpass via the Bakewell Underpass next door to the crossing.

Consistent with our commitment to the community we will keep the crossing open, however, if the next three months of CCTV (concluding in late August) show further patterns of dangerous behaviour, we will be forced to place the continued operation of the crossing under review.

On this basis we have asked the community group we have been liaising with to come up with some ideas to help educate and encourage the community to remain safe at the crossing and prevent risk taking. We will not be placing any infrastructure solution at the crossing noting that the issues are clearly behavioural and the announcement of expressions of interest to deliver the Torrens Junction project renders any investment redundant in the future.

We would also like to commend Torrens and Adelaide High Schools as it is evident that students are observing safe behaviour at this crossing.

 

First month of CCTV results released

The first month of CCTV monitoring at Mile End pedestrian crossing has been reviewed and we are pleased to report there was no major incidents or dangerous behaviour picked up. The table below shows the CCTV results for the period 15 Feb – 15 March 2016. The next update will be provided in late May after we have 3 months of footage captured.

CCTV monitoring results

Timeframe: 15 February to 15 March 2016
Number of times freight train blocked crossing during 30 day period 1
Average Length of delay 1 minute
Number of unsafe trespass incidents recorded 0

 

Mile End crossing to remain open if community stays safe

Following feedback from the community and meetings with a nominated community group, ARTC has postponed plans to temporarily close the Mile End crossing on 15 February 2016 and proposed an alternative way forward for it to remain open, contingent on safe behaviour by the community.

While the closure was only ever intended to be temporary we appreciate that residents would be without access via this crossing for a considerable period until Torrens Junction works eliminated the problem.

Our decision to close the crossing until that time was driven by our desire to eliminate the risk of someone being injured or killed by a freight train. Based on what we’ve heard from the community we recognise the need to balance that safety risk with the convenience and access needs of the people that use it.

Bakewell underpass remains the safest option for people walking to the Mile End station or the parklands and city, but we acknowledge for a range of reasons that route doesn’t suit everyone.

We thank residents for taking the time to provide feedback about the temporary closure and their suggestions for alternatives to deal with the issue of people using the crossing while it’s blocked by a freight train.

As a result, we will be trialling a number of the ideas provided, including:
– Keeping the crossing open, contingent on ongoing safe behaviour
– Installing permanent safety signage explaining the dangers
– Monitoring the site with random CCTV surveillance.

The responsibility now lies with the community to ensure safe use of the crossing continues so we can avoid any closure. We hope that this can be a positive example of the community and rail cooperating to reduce the risk of harm, while at the same time maintaining public access.

 

Why were you considering closing it?

This is a shared corridor between both passenger and freight services, and in line with network rules and the layout of the track, freight trains have a requirement to give passenger services right of way. At times this can mean freight trains are required to bank over the crossing for prolonged periods of time, blocking access for pedestrians, often at times of busy commuter periods.

When the Torrens Junction project is completed it will have a positive effect on the current blocking of the crossings, and is expected to remove most if not eliminate the instances of freight services crossing the crossing in this location.

What are the safety issues?

What is concerning is that members of the public climbing over, through or around stationary trains have no way of knowing when the train will move and that they can move at any time without warning.

Drivers of banked freight trains simply do not have visibility of what’s taking place, given the length of the train and bends in the track layout. This means that a driver could potentially be 1.5km away from the crossing, sitting around a bend, completely unaware of what is happening at the crossing or people taking risks.

With the future Torrens Junction project going to increase the number and length of freight train delays at this crossing, we are concerned that existing risky behaviour will grow in line with raised levels of pedestrian frustration.

Unsafe behaviour - Mile End
Unsafe community behaviour at Mile End pedestrian crossing

 

What are the alternatives to making the crossing safer? Can you add in boom gates or warning lights or change operations to avoid the issues you are seeing?

The safest crossing of any type at a railway is a grade separated crossing – which means that there is no possibility to cross the rail line at all. The closest grade separated crossing at this location is the Bakewell underpass (see map below) – which is the interim alternative route when this crossing is closed.

We did consider an underpass at this location, but unfortunately because of the number service utilities that exist underground it would be difficult to construct one. Alternatively an overpass would be required to be DDA compliant and would be significant in size and scale to deliver – e.g. it would need to be constructed at least 7.2m above rail height and allow for disability access grades.  This would result in a structure not too dissimilar in length to walking to Bakewell underpass, notwithstanding there would be difficulties locating such a structure in the corridor.  This concern is part of the reason the recent Bakewell underpass was built to replace the previous bridge.

The cost as well as construction timeframe and impact for either of these alternatives (underpass or overpass) would also be counter-productive in that it would take an extended period of time and land footprint to deliver – for what is a temporary solution.

Relocating the crossing to the north was not considered feasible as rail infrastructure is in the way prevents this taking place as well as being sufficiently close to the Bakewell underpass already available in this location. At the southern end, problems would only be heightened as trains currently stop in the loop at this location – this means freight services are unlikely to move for extended periods of time and trains would block a crossing in this location for significantly longer periods.

With regards to active protection such as gates, lights, bells or other measures; these are not always effective in removing the risk and/or preventing the behaviour of individuals. Our view is that this is particularly the case at Mile End where it is evident even the physical blockage of access by a freight train does not prevent risky behaviour in this location.  Finally these kind of measures also do not take into account or overcome the increased delays that are going to be experienced at the crossing when Torrens Junction works do get underway.

CCTV footage Mile End Pedestrian Crossing

What about actually changing the stopping patterns of the trains or moving train signals so they don’t block the crossing at all?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a practical change to put in place. Railways are built in line with fixed, physical infrastructure and there are close inter-relationships between different signals and stopping locations. Because of the size of trains, particularly freight trains, any change in stopping patterns will have flow on effects throughout the broader Adelaide rail network (including potentially delays and blockages at other crossing locations). The cost to do this would also be excessive for little or no operational benefit, and the consequence would still be more frequent delays of freight trains in the immediate timeframe while that work was undertaken.

What about enforcement or fines?

ARTC has no capacity to either fine or prevent illegal behaviour at the crossing or enact ongoing surveillance.

What is the alternative route?

If the crossing is blocked at Mile End, there is an alternative crossing up the road at Bakewell Underpass adjacent to Glover Avenue. This presents a far safer crossing location and it is completely grade separated from the railway line.

Alternative route map - Mile End
Alternative route to Mile End Station & parklands

 

Banked train - Mile End
Example of banked train at Mile End pedestrian crossing

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