ConnDOT: Update on the Danbury Branch Grade Crossings
2014

CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
NEWS RELEASE
 
2800 BERLIN TURNPIKE P.O. BOX 317546
NEWINGTON CONNECTICUT, 06131-7546
 
FOR RELEASE: March 27, 2014
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
TELEPHONE: (860) 594-3061
FAX: (860) 594-3065
WEB SITE: www.ct.gov/dot 

Update on the Danbury Branch Grade Crossings

      In November, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Metro-North completed a new signal system project for the entire Danbury Branch. Branch Line service was expanded as the result of the project upgrade and construction of several portions of parallel track, or sidings, allowing for the ability to operate more than one train along the corridor at a time.

      Recently, Metro-North identified that the new technology train detection system that controls the closing of a gate crossing sometimes activates with no trains approaching, despite the fact that this system was comprehensively tested at each crossing prior to being activated along the right-of-way. We have not experienced any failures of the crossing system to activate when required.

      We are working toward a permanent fix and have taken the following steps:

      1. The system’s operation was modified and Metro-North is operating trains with a “Stop and Warn” requirement to ensure continued safe train movements. This procedure requires all trains to come to a complete stop before entering the affected crossing and to determine if the crossing protection is activated. When the crossing is activated and providing protection, the train then proceeds at a restricted speed not exceeding 15 M.P.H. through the crossing. Although this procedure may cause train and local traffic delays, it is the safest way for us to operate a train, safeguarding customers and any vehicular traffic. Although we have not experienced any failures of the system to work when a train is present, the procedure does address that. In the event the crossing does not activate, the conductor will climb down from the train and stop traffic so the train can proceed very slowly through the crossing. The conductor then climbs back aboard and the train proceeds.

      2. We have implemented a new service plan to accommodate these measures and provide more reliable service with changes in travel times for peak hour train service and substitute bus service operating during the off-peak, evening and weekend hours. This change also provides the required track time for Metro-North and CDOT to further investigate and correct the grade crossing issue as quickly and safely as possible. In addition, Metro-North customers who ride the Danbury Branch are able to present their tickets for travel on Harlem Line trains while we work to correct this problem.

      3. Metro-North and CDOT have established a Technical Working Group, which includes a third-party consultant who specializes in signal installations, to identify root causes and develop corrective actions. The team coordinates their efforts with the contractor for the signal project, Alstom, and their supplier of the Grade Crossing Predictor, Siemens, to help expedite the solution.

      We have been making modifications to the eleven grade crossings and have returned three to normal operations.

      Work on the remaining eight will continue through April.

      CDOT will be expediting its “state of good repair” replacement program for the grade crossings and also improve drainage at various locations.

      We will continue to keep you updated about our progress in resolving this issue.

      We apologize for any inconvenience you may experience while we work to correct this problem.