Rail Safety

Recycled rubber products keep rail crossings, platforms and yards safe for vehicular traffic and pedestrians

One of the earliest and long-standing uses for recycled tire rubber has been in transportation products used on highways and roads and on the rails.  In the US recycled rubber railroad crossings date back to the early 1990s and have advanced to today’s market with high quality construction, improved features, innovative uses and approvals by major railroad agencies.

Eagle International

This article takes a look at some of the advances in the rail crossing industry and how US and international companies are meeting market demands with recycled rubber rail products.

New generation rail mats and crossing panels focus on safety as their number one attribute. Nowhere is this more evident than in the development of anti-trespass panels.

Designed and engineered by UK-based Rosehill Rail and developed for over a decade from feedback by rail operators worldwide, the relatively new anti-trespass panels (ATP) made their debut in the US in 2019 with Pittsburgh, PA-based rail supplier L.B. Foster

At the same time demand for the panels has become increasingly popular in the UK, Holland, France, Belgium, Turkey, Australia, and Portugal.

Interest in the product launch has also been generated among North American freight railroads, both Class 1’s as well as short line and regionals.

Anti-trespass panels are a proven visual and physical deterrent to people attempting to access rail tracks or other prohibited areas, with pre and post implementation studies showing them to reduce the number of unauthorized people trackside by up to 78 percent, Rosehill Rail officials said.

According to the US Federal Railroad Administration trespass fatalities surpassed grade crossing fatalities in 1997, and since then trespassing has been the leading cause of rail-related deaths.  In a 2019 study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-trespass panels on pedestrian behavior, the FRA found that over a 60-day period there was a 38 percent reduction in trespass incidents. Rose Hill Rail’s recycled rubber anti-trespass panels were installed at the entrance to a rail right-of-way in Fayetteville, AR for the study.

Several large transit agencies have begun to install ATPs with the intention to use them systemwide, while other agencies have initiated testing of the panels.

In 2019, Toronto’s trans-rail agency Metrolinx, launched a pilot program to install the recycled rubber anti-trespassing mats at select level crossings across the GO rail network.

“With safety being at the very heart of our operations at Metrolinx, we decided to build on the success of the pilot program and broaden the scope,” Elisabeth Santo, Right-of-Way Officer at Metrolinx, said.

The hard and uneven surface these rubber panels create makes it nearly impossible to walk over and makes people think twice before they trespass into the rail corridors, Metrolinx personnel said.

The mats have taken on a new shape following the test.  After the pilot and some industry consultation, Metrolinx decided to install a variation of the original mat with round cones – rather than pyramids – making it even more difficult to get onto the tracks.

Trains travel constantly on rail lines, and their size and speed can be a threat to life and limb of those looking for a short-cut across. These mats are placed in places where pedestrians regularly try to wrongly dash across rail lines, but the rubber carpets create a less than stable route, Metrolinx said.

Manufactured in the UK from 100 percent recycled tire rubber bonded with polyurethane and compression molded for strength, the panels can be easily cut to fit around fence posts or other structures. Their toughness enables them to be installed almost anywhere, removed and used again and again, the company said. And, they can be fully recycled at the end of their service life.

Available in three styles for greater flexibility to site specific requirements, the newly redesigned anti-trespass panel system offers a rail safety solution for railway administrations worldwide.

For manufacturer Rose Hill Rail, supplier L.B. Foster and end user Metrolinx, anti-trespass panels provide a passive deterrent to pedestrian foot traffic and are a safety solution for rail grade crossings, platforms, right-of-ways, bridge access and yard entrances.

© Scrap Tire News, February 2022