Re: Princes Highway Crossing Signal Replacement – December 2020
  Yuri Sos

I was last at Loftus in 2011 for the 50th anniversary of the closure. My son and I were extremely uncomfortable at that level crossing - it seemed that whenever the flashing lights started there was a tacit agreement that 10-15 cars would continue to barrel through the crossing and then traffic would gradually stop and the tram could proceed.

At the time my son and I thought it was crazy not to have traffic lights there.

Standards are all very well, the average motorist couldn't give a rat's tossbsg about standards, they want to go from A to B with the least hassle possible. That crossing is a potential death trap.

PS: Standards:. For many years the Victirian country road between Yea and Molesworth was marked with double lines. There were multiple accidents involving some fatalities, but the road was "built to VicRoads standard" and little was done apart from imposition of an 80km/h speed limit.

Only when the daughter of a ocal policeman was killed in a head-on accident did the community demand VicRoads install wire barriers to stop cars drifting onto the wrong side of the road. There hasn't been a serious accident, injury or fatality on that stretch of road since.

Sometimes common sense, which isn't very common, needs to trump "standards".

On 11 January 2021 11:58:41 am Greg Sutherland gregsutherland@...> wrote:
> In 1993 when the Loftus Pacific Highway crossing was being converted from a railway to a tramway crossing considerable consultations were held between the Sydney Tramway Museum and various government agencies including the NSW Railways, the Roads and Traffic Authority, Sutherland Shire Council and NSW Police.

> Plans for all works to be undertaken and operational procedures were drawn up, distributed and formally agreed to by the involved parties prior to work being undertaken.

> Some interesting details:

> Regrading the highway the RTA wanted to improve the road camber of the curve across the railway line which was at that time a level "level crossing" with the track being laid in wooden sleepers with a bitumen top surface. The RTA wished to see a west to east gradient of some 4% and a more permanent road surface with a lower on going maintenance requirement. STM suggested a mass concrete rail installation and also advised that the 4% track gradient was acceptable for a tramway. RTA said fine but how do you design and construct such an arrangement. STM contacted the M&MTB engineers who provided plans and details of Melbourne standard track construction which were on forwarded to the RTA. Here is a video of the track being installed

> The RTA site engineer who was responsible for the highway works on this project was really trying very hard to achieve a first class result. I asked him why he was so dedicated. His reply "my wife's father was the Head Carpenter at the Randwick Tramway Workshops!" Nuff said! General RTA staff working on the job were also quite interested and involved doing what they described as "something different".

> The M&MTB design and RTA execution was excellent and today, even after 27 years operation, traffic traveling along Highway 1, including high speed large trucks and major interurban and interstate general traffic, passes across the rail tracks constantly and with little if any tyre thump. This is in direct contrast to a number of intersections in the Sydney CBD where general traffic crosses tram tracks and additional road noise is a continuing feature.


> Signalling - STM suggested that it would be possible to replace the Railway Crossing signals with standard traffic lights but this option was not agreed to by the Railways and the RTA, both agencies wishing to retain statewide standards for rail crossings. It was agreed however due to the curved layout of the highway early warning flashing amber lights would be installed. To achieve this STM provided a signal supply feed for the RTA to incorporate into their highway signals. The lights at the crossing are supplied with power and control from the STM system.


> The worksite for the 2020 Signal Replacement in terms of Traffic Wardens, their vehicles and the area and time of the works was set up by a RTA approve Traffic Management contractor, a standard procedure for NSW road works. There were lane closures in place.


> Greg Sutherland

> STM Project Engineer for the Railway to Tramway Conversion Project



> On 11/01/2021 10:00 am, Yuri Sos wrote:

>> Conventional traffic lights would be more effective. Motorists are "programmed" to stop at a red traffic light, they do it multiple times every day, so it's almost an unconscious reflex, even if their concentration isn't 100%.


>> I remember, with some guilt and embarrassment, an incident some 25 years ago. I was driving home from work along Footscray Road heading inbound towards the City - a road that I had driven on 6 days a week for about 20 years before that. And I'm a railfan so I'm probably more aware of trains and trams than the average motorist.


>> Rail access to Swanson and Appleton Dock used to be a single track under City Link and crossed eight-lane Footscray Road protected only by flashing red lights at each kerb.


>> It had been a long stressful 14 hour day and I was exhausted. Probably mostly on auto pilot I was heading home. As I crossed the railway line a blast of a horn and a bright headlight of a Y class appeared in my driver's side window. I missed colliding with that Y class by about 4 metres.


>> Now I could make lots of excuses such as flashing lights at the kerb of an eight-lane road are outside a driver's line of vision (*) but the fact is that it was ENTIRELY MY FAULT due to inattention and lack of concentration. The point is that, to my knowledge, I've never driven through a red traffic light. Watch cars in traffic - 99.9% of drivers automatically come to a halt at a red light.


>> The Museum's crossing light is very nice and appeals to my gunzel's heart, but the average motorist will not have it programmed in.


>> I was also concerned at the speed of motorists past the work site - I was amazed that cars could flash past so close to workers: were there no 40km/h speed restrictions and Lane closures in place?


>> Yuri.


>> (*) another bugbear of mine is that Australian standards call for removing traffic lights away from the driver's line-of-sight as the driver approaches the intersection. Located on the near side of the intersection, as you approach the intersection the traffic lights move out of your line of sight as a driver because you're watching the cars in front of you and so you can quite easily miss the fact that the lights have changed to amber or red. In the US traffic lights high mounted traffic lights are on the FAR side of the intersection and there is one set of traffic lights for each lane of traffic in each direction; this means that as you approach the intersection you ALWAYS have a traffic light directly in your line of sight till you enter the intersection: in my opinion this is much safer for drivers especially in heavy traffic, night-time or bad weather. I note at several intersections here in South and Port Melbourne, the near side high mounted traffic lights are obscured by tree foliage until you are close to the intersection. Placing high mounted lights on the far side of the intersection would ensure clear view of the lights.


>> /rant off

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