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EXEMPT Railroad Crossings

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  • Member since
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  • From: California
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EXEMPT Railroad Crossings
Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 5:57 PM

At most railroad crossing school buses and vehicles are required to stop, look and listen for trains before crossing the tracks.  They do not have to stop where the crossing is signed EXEMPT.

This is the critieria for signing a crossing EXEMPT in California and procedure for determining status.  Crossing designated EXEMPT are monitored to ensure they continue to meet the requirements.    

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/publishedDocs/published/Graphics/600-2.PDF

1 Crossings with crossing gates or at intersections with traffic signals, and no more than two tracks can be considered for EXEMPT status but must also meet aditional requirements listed. 

2 Where there are no crossing gates, crossing may be considered if the volume of train traffic less than 5/day (average), train speed under 30 MPH, no more than two tracks and there are no unflagged  switching operations,  as well as other requirements.  

Except for switching where flagging is required the trains have the right of way.

Crireria and rules may be different in others states. 

 

An unused crossing is not automatically EXEMPT. On a County road about 5 miles from my home there is a crossing that has not seen a train in over 20 years. It is not signed EXEMPT. The school buses stop and open their doors to listen for a train. There is a gate across the track on the east side of the road. The east track is still connected to the rail network, but the track on the west side was removed about five years ago and has been unuseable for much longer than that.

 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
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  • From: Massachusetts
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Posted by Bundy74 on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 7:14 PM

Very interesting read.  I did find the quote below odd though:

DSchmitt
2 Where there are no crossing gates, crossing may be considered if the volume of train traffic less than 5/day (average), train speed under 30 MPH, no more than two tracks and there are no unflagged  switching operations,  as well as other requirements.  

Up here in W. Mass, any "exempt" crossing I see is just paperwork short of abandoned.  An average of 5 trains/day seems quite high to be considered exempt.

 

Modeling whatever I can make out of that stash of kits that takes up half my apartment's spare bedroom.

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Western, MA
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Posted by richg1998 on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 8:42 PM

I have seen exempt signs a few times on a railroad, Central New England RR, that extends from Hartford, Ct up to the Mass line in East Longmeadow where it becomes the Redstone rail trail.

A few crossings in Northern Ct section are exempt.

Don't remember seeing any busses though.

Residents in the area have not see a train in some time.

One with overhead signals not operating.

Cross bucks in place at small road crossings.

A couple crossings I see stacks of concrete ties. I thought I saw some concrete ties under the rails.

I drive the area.

Google maps show activity a few miles south in East Windsor to Hartford.

Rich

N

  • Member since
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  • From: California
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Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 11:32 PM

Bundy74

Very interesting read.  I did find the quote below odd though:

 

 
DSchmitt
2 Where there are no crossing gates, crossing may be considered if the volume of train traffic less than 5/day (average), train speed under 30 MPH, no more than two tracks and there are no unflagged  switching operations,  as well as other requirements.  

 

Up here in W. Mass, any "exempt" crossing I see is just paperwork short of abandoned.  An average of 5 trains/day seems quite high to be considered exempt.

 

 

The General Order actually does say "annual average of five trains per day" so to be redicious assuming a 365 day year there could be 1825 trains in one day and none the rest of the year.  In practice most exempt crossing probably never see more than 1 or 2 trains a couple times a week. or less,  and no trains on most days. 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
    February, 2017
  • 217 posts
Posted by NYBW-John on Friday, July 07, 2017 4:43 PM

Here in Ohio it is my understanding that school busses are required to stop at every RR crossing, no exceptions. Even ones with flashers and gates. 

There has been a push in our state to put flashers on all grade crossings. Maybe that is now mandated by law. The Ohio Central operates a short branchline to Mt. Vernon, OH which used to be a major branch of the B&O that ran all the way to northern OH. The tracks north of Mt. Vernon have since been pulled up. There is one train daily that operates on the line. It takes empty boxcars up to the grain elevators and returns with loads the same day. When I first moved here many of the crossings were protected only by crossbucks but within the past couple years they now all have flashers despite the low volume. Because of the quality of the track I've never seen the trains travel more than 20 mph if that fast yet all crossings that I am aware of now have flashers.

  • Member since
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  • From: California
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Posted by DSchmitt on Saturday, July 08, 2017 4:23 AM

To clairify, in California school buses and vehicles hauling hazardious materials are required to stop at all railroad crossings that are not signed EXEMPT.

Crossings are evaluated induvidually.  Most crossings with gates etc. are not EXEMPT and a few uncontrolled crossings are.  To be signed EXEMPT a request must be made and it must meet the criteria specified in PUC General Order No. 145. The request must be made by the appropirate agency having jurisdiction over the road/highway.  (State highway dept, city or county. 

I mendioned an unused, uncontrolled crossing in my origional post.  Also near my home was a crossing with signals and gates.  The line was abandoned and tracks removed on both sides of the highway. The gates and track in the pavement remained.  It was not signed EXEMPT.  Buses were still required to "stop, look, and listen" and continued to do so until the crossing was completely removed several years latter.

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
    January, 2016
  • 60 posts
Posted by jlehnert on Sunday, July 09, 2017 10:40 PM

Never could understand why school buses/tank trucks/fire & rescue have to stop/look/listen at a CONTROLLED crossing. An uncontrolled crossing, heck yes. But a controlled one? The driver needs to make sure that he can clear the crossing and won't get hung up or blocked, but that does not require stop/look/listen. 

Only reason I can come up with is that the rule was put in back when most crossings were uncontrolled, and never got updated for current reality. 

  • Member since
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  • From: California
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Posted by DSchmitt on Monday, July 10, 2017 3:20 AM

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
    July, 2017
  • 5 posts
Posted by Edsland on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 3:17 PM
I drive a school bus in Illinois and my district forbids going across a railroad crossing unless it's a field trip. Then you have to stop at every crossing no matter what it says.
  • Member since
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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 5:43 PM

 If you remember Schoolhouse Rock from the 70's - they played during saturday morning cartoons. They were snippets about math, science, history, grammar, civics, etc. set to catchy songs - one about conjunctiosn was railroad themed with the song "Conjunction Junctions, what's your function". Well, there was another one called "I'm just a bill" about how a law is made, and the law in question was that school buses must stop at all railroad crossings. In fact - here it is! They're all on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFroMQlKiag

The biggest thing is to make sure there's nothing coming that MIGHT get there before the bus is fully across - and to make sure the tracks are clear in case the bus stalls, giving time to get everyone off. While the Schoolhouse Rock video shows an unprotected crossing (note that the signs STILL say "Stop, Look, Listen" but no one ever does), it absolutely applies to a protected crossing as well, and it should. Note that prople STILL get struck even at protected crossings - cars, trucks, and pedestrians alike, and most of those are NOT suicide by train. Just idiots who think they can beat the train. And then you have the people who drive into the side os a passing train, in broad daylight - and aren't intoxicated. Even WITH the law for the school bus, it doesn't stop things from happening, like the school bus a number of years ago in Illinois struck by a commuter train outside of Chicago. Shows what happens if you don't wait until you KNOW there is enough space to fit your vehicle clear of the tracks. Short space between the tracks and the traffic light or not. And freezing up in a panic situation - if the choice is ram the car in front of you or have a bus full of kids hit by a train - just smash your way up. But most of all, WAIT if in doubt - I have people honk and me all the time, and then just follow right behind me and stop half on the tracks. No, there is no train coming THIS instant, but how do you know one won't be along before you can move up? This is in KNOWN active track areas, too, not just some random branch that gets one train a week if you're lucky. 

                      --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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