Updated 3rd Aug 2017.

General

Automatic Barrier Operation

Alarm Changes in 2014

Current Position

Future closures

 

General

The railway which runs through Cliffsend is used by trains on several routes between London and Ramsgate, including the high speed Javelin trains to St Pancras and the normal mainline services via Ashford and via Dover to Waterloo, Charing Cross, London Bridge and Cannon Street.

The Foads Hill Level Crossing has automatic half barriers with bright LED red flashing warning lights and has a new “sounder” system of yodels and voice warnings for crossing users – pedestrians and road traffic.

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Automatic Barrier Operation

Information supplied by Network Rail (Jan 2015)

 

The crossing closure sequence is triggered by the train which is approaching the crossing (from either direction).
 
Starting the barrier closure sequence
The train runs over a “strike in treadle” (mechanical switch) on the track.
The distance of the switches from the crossing were determined by risk assessment, and were not altered when the sound alarms were changed in Feb 2014.
 
Closure times
The time that the barriers are down will be determined by the speed of the train
 – e.g. a slow freight train (or workmen on the track) means that the barriers are down for much longer than normal before the train arrives at the crossing, and before the barriers lift again.
 
Ending the closure
Once past the crossing the train then runs over a second switch, located at a safe distance beyond the crossing, which operates to raise the barriers etc. once the entire train has passed over it.
 
Second train approaching
However, the barriers will remain down and the stop lights will continue to flash if a train in the opposite direction is close enough to have operated its approach switch.
This also triggers the speaker sequence advising of a second train approaching and alters the alarm repeat timings.
 
The yodel (sound) alarms run during the entire sequence until the barriers are fully lifted again.
 
The timings for the sequence are:-
  • Yellow warning lights will flash for 5 seconds.
  • The Red stop lights will flash for a further 7 seconds.
  • The Barrier lowers (which takes approx 6-8 seconds).
  • These barriers must be down for a minimum of 10 seconds before the train passes.
  • Once the entire train is safely past the crossing it runs over the reset treadle (switch) which activates the barrier opening sequence and the barriers are raised within a few seconds.
 
“These timings are a minimum and governed by our company standards.”

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Alarm changes

New alarm sounders were installed overnight on 26th Feb 2014 and immediately led to complaints from residents near the crossing.

The new yodel alarms are louder and “different” to the previous alarms, and some residents have found them particularly intrusive. These alarms have an additional voice announcement if a second train is approaching.

The Cliffsend Parish Council and Cliffsend Residents’ Association are working jointly together to ensure that residents worries are passed on to Network Rail and to try to resolve this problem to the satisfaction of all parties.

They are actively negotiating with N.R. to try to persuade them of the advantages to both the residents and to their own public reputation of reducing the noise level.

Network Rail comment – “The new yodals which have been installed are a direct instruction from the Office of Rail Regulation and have been installed to their specifications.”

Network Rail claim that a significant number of pedestrian casualties at level crossings occur when the user assumes that it is safe to cross the track after a train has passed, even though the barriers stay down and the lights and alarms continue to sound – because another train is very close to the crossing.

The new sounders have a voice warning to try to prevent this misunderstanding.

A survey of the effect on residents living close to the crossing was carried out in March 2014.

9 households stated that the alarms are affecting their sleep, despite the fact that the alarm volume is automatically reduced overnight.

The survey results have been passed on to Network Rail, and they are being encouraged to carry out the necessary risk assessment which will allow them to reduce the volume of the alarms.

Environmental Health carried out noise level measurements inside a house near to the crossing over a full week in May 2014.

They have recommended to Network Rail that the alarm volume should be reduced by 10 decibel (db), both day and night.

However, Network Rail are a “statutory body” and cannot be forced to comply with the recommendation.

Our MP – Laura Sandys – has taken this problem up with Network Rail

Sandwich residents near their Ash Road level crossing are also being badly affected.

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Current Position

The volume of the Ash Road, Sandwich, crossing alarms was reduced in early Aug 2014

Oct 23rd – Network Rail have completed a 7 day traffic and “footfall” (pedestrian) survey of the Cliffsend crossing.

This will form the basis of a detailed risk assessment which has to be carried out to see whether it is safe to reduce the alarm volume

The results have to be reviewed, and the risk assessment carried out.

Network Rail are currently unable to say how long this will take.

Dec 4th – Network Rail reduced the alarm volume by 10 dB on Sat 28th Nov.

The alarms are noticeably quieter.

Network Rail would like to hear back from local residents after about a month.

Jan 2015 – A follow-up survey of residents was carried out, and the results have been reported to Network Rail.

Virtually all residents are extremely pleased with the reduced alarm volume, and now find the noise bearable.

However, several did note that the real test will be in good weather, when windows and doors are open, and have suggested a further survey be carried out in the summer.

Late 2015 – Residents now find the alarm noise acceptable.

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Future Crossing Closures

10 Aug 2017 – 00:30 – 05:00 – Road & Rail Machine egress

10 Sept 2017 – 07:00 – 20:00 – Rail corrosion inspection

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