Pedestrian “Shortest Path” Considerations as An Approach to Reducing Railroad Trespassing
Although it has not been quantified, an important reason that people
trespass on rail rights-of-way is that the rail line may represent the shortest
or most convenient route between their origin and destination. In other cases, their travel path may cross
the rail line because there is no nearby roadway or grade-separated structure. In other cases, they may be taking a
short-cut to/from a rail transit platform and their vehicle or transit
stop. Because these individuals view
themselves as travelers, not trespassers, and are acting as rational humans in
taking the least energy route, they are challenging to address from a
countermeasure standpoint. Signing that
prohibits trespassing typically will not work for these pedestrians. Enforcement can be effective but is severely
limited by resource constraints. Fencing
can be used, however, examples abound of fencing along rail rights-of-way being
cut or otherwise breached by these travelers.
Rather than simply trying to control access, another countermeasure strategy
would be to examine the environment along/around the rail right-of-way to see
how it might be reconfigured to create routes/paths that are more attractive
from a shortest path, energy expenditure and connectivity standpoint than using
or crossing the rail right-of-way. To
our knowledge, no formal approach or methodology is available to provide
guidance for engineers/planners and railroad officials seeking to minimize
railroad trespassing through this strategy.
The objective of this research is to develop a framework or methodology
for assessing where the pedestrian shortest path issue is a significant
contributor to railroad and transit trespassing incidents and analyzing how
roadways, paths and structures (or even transit stops) along or in the vicinity
of rail rights-of-way might be developed, constructed or reconfigured to create
routes/paths that are more attractive to pedestrians than walking along or
across the rail right-of-way.
The results and products of this research will reduce rail and transit trespassing,
and in turn train-pedestrian interactions, thereby increasing the safety of
pedestrians and enhancing rail and transit operations.
of Railroad Safety, “Community Trespass Prevention Guide,” Federal Railroad
Administration, September 2012.
Right-of-Way Fatality and Trespass Prevention Workshop,” DOT/FRA/ORD-13/18,
Federal Railroad Administration, April 2013.
Right-of-Way Fatality and Trespass Prevention Workshop,” DOT/FRA/ORD-17/06,
Federal Railroad Administration, May 2017.
major tasks of this research include, but are not limited to, the following:
Perform a comprehensive literature review
Select locations for field study to gain better understanding of the problem
For each site, analyze pedestrian incident data, pedestrian origins and
destinations with respect to available routes/paths.
Interview law enforcement personnel.
- Identify logical minimum energy pedestrian routes and the modifications needed to implement them
Formulate methodology or framework for performing the above analysis
Prepare a users’ guide to the methodology
Once the methodology is developed and validated, it can be implemented
immediately by state and local agency planners and engineers as well as by
railroads and transit agencies.
Trespassing along rail rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in the United States. Nationally, more than 400 trespass fatalities and nearly as many injuries occur each year along rail rights-of-way.
|Sponsoring Committee:||AHB60, Highway/Rail Grade Crossings
|Research Period:||12 - 24 months|
|RNS Developer:||Ron Eck, Robert Rescot, and David Nelson|
|Index Terms:||Pedestrians, Pedestrian safety, Trespassers, Railroad grade crossings, Walkways, Routing, |
Pedestrians and Bicyclists|
Safety and Human Factors