Highway Rail-Grade Crossing Safety Research: Railroad Infrastructure Trespassing Detection Systems Research
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, under the direction of the Federal Railroad Administration, conducted a 3-year demonstration of an automated prototype railroad infrastructure security system on a railroad bridge. Specifically, this commercial-off-the-shelf technology system was installed at a bridge in Pittsford, New York, where trespassing is commonplace and fatalities have occurred. This video-based trespass monitoring and deterrent system had the capability of detecting trespass events when an intrusion on the railroad right-of-way occurred. The interactive system comprised video cameras, motion detectors, infrared illuminators, speakers, and central processing units. Once a trespass event occurred, the in-situ system sent audible and visual signals to the monitoring workstation at the local security company where an attendant validated the alarm by viewing the live images from the scene. The attendant then issued a real-time warning to the trespasser(s) via pole-mounted speakers near the bridge, called the local police, and then the railroad police, if necessary. All alarm images were stored on a wayside computer for evaluation. The system was installed in August 2001 and evaluated over a 3-year period ending in August 2004. This report describes the results of this research endeavor. Topics addressed include the project location, system technology and operation, system costs, results, potential benefits, and lessons learned. The results indicate this interactive system can serve as a model for railroad infrastructure security system for other railroad ROW or bridges deemed prone to intrusion.