Rail environment

Research and Projects

LED pedestrian warning lights

KiwiRail plans to trial the effectiveness of a new sign with in-built flashing lights in the footpath. The sign will warn users that a train is approaching (at a crossing with active protection), or may be approaching (at a crossing with passive protection), and will supplement existing “Look for trains” signage.

In September 2016, seven red and yellow in-ground LED luminaires were installed at either end of a pedestrian level crossing at Collins Avenue in Tawa, Wellington. The LED luminaires are connected to the train detection system and flash when a train is approaching. Currently, this is the only known example of in-ground LEDs to warn pedestrians of an approaching train on a heavy rail line.

The in-ground LEDs at Collins Avenue have been effective at conveying the message that pedestrians should stop and wait for a train to pass. However, the LEDs were introduced as a prototype and user requirements, along with specific installation and operational considerations need to be taken into account prior to further implementation at New Zealand crossings.

To improve upon the current LED set-up at Collins Avenue, it has been suggested that pre-manufactured in-ground pads placed in concrete frames will be cheaper to install at multiple sites and easier to modify.

Two focus group workshops were held in Wellington and Auckland to discuss the concept and various active sign options. The following sign option is a result of the findings from the workshops and will be trialled at 6 level crossings between July 2017 and March 2018.

The LED lights on this sign will activate when the level crossing alarms activate. The sign is designed to overcome the negative safety consequences of mobile device and headphone use. Users looking down at their mobile devices will see the flashing lights in the footpath. 

Users who are prevented from hearing the warning bell will see the flashing lights in the footpath.

Quantitative and qualitative surveys will be undertaken on human behaviour and opinion of the trial devices. Video cameras will be installed at all six trial locations to capture pedestrian behaviour before and after the LED units are installed.

The new modern image of the train replaces the existing old style ‘Chew Chew’ train version current on level crossing warning signs today. The train image is static and in view at all times to approaching pedestrians.

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