Signal Question

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by Lemur, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. Lemur

    Lemur New Member

    I was helping a buddy of mine move this weekend from one of the NW suburbs of Chicago.
    I noticed at a set of grade crossings with two relatively busy streets that intersect approx 30 to 50 feet from the grade crossings. The crossings had posts on either side of the tracks with a lit up red “X” flashing at the top. These signs seemed to be aimed more along the rail then the streets. The posts also had what appeared to be directional horns that were aimed towards the lanes of oncoming traffic. A nearby sign indicated that the tracks were owned by the Wisconsin Central.

    Does anyone have any info on the actual function of these signs with the red X’s? My buddy had no clue. (If it doesn’t have wings he doesn’t bother to figure it out)
  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    I've seen similar signals on the MARTA rail system in Atlanta and it prompted me to do a little looking around. Rapid rail systems use a different approach to signaling than railroads do.

    Read that the Chicago METRA system has since 1996 been using Wisconsin Central trackage in certain areas.

    I'm just willing to bet that those signals have something to do with the METRA system rather than the Wisconsin Central and that those "horns" are actually housing for some type of detectors for traffic???? or video cameras???

    Sorry I couldn't find any pictures.
  3. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    Any pictures?
  4. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Those horns may also be used instead of horns on the trains. There was a study where the crossing had horns aimed at the traffic instead of down the tracks. The train didn't blow their horn for the crossing; the track side mounted ones blew instead. It was activated the same way crossing gates are. The study showed that the noise was less intrusive and the auto traffic heard the horns easier. At the moment, I don't recall where I read about them, but the study has been on going for 10 yrs or more IIRC. The red X's may alert the crew that the system is working or not. It would be interesting to find out the whole story about them. Noise and warning the public just don't mix.

  5. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Your buddy must live in Mundelein. Those gates were installed there on a trial basis in the past few years. The assumptions so far have been correct, the horns are used in place of those on the locomotives and the red signals alert the train crews to the functionallity of the system.
  6. Lemur

    Lemur New Member

    Thanks for the info. :thumb: :thumb:

    I know that the horns are the result of the locals complaining about the noise of the train horns. It seems like they fight to keep the trains from blowing their horns, but then they turn around and complain that they did not blow if some poor sob gets killed because he was more intent on sipping his morning coffee then to pay attention at the crossing.

    I have heard of several municipalities in the Chicago area using the directional horns at some intersections. I do not recall which city/village the crossing was in, it may very well have been in Mundelein. I was only in the area to provide extra muscle to help him move back out of that whole mess. Unfortunately, since it was so far away and he is finished moving, I will not be able to get any pics. :(
  7. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    They are getting ready to convert a number of downtown RR crossings to this system. The reason stated is to reduce the noise in the nearby neighborhoods. The local government has to pay for the conversion. Columbia is a busy RR community so this will have a positive impact on living conditions downtown. Just hope the margin of safety is the same.


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