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Head On Train Crashes -
Single Track Solutions

This is

by Julian Stacey


Globaly repeated avoidable tragedies (see List) . So why don't they throw more cheap technology solutions at it to reduce the deaths ? A damn sight cheaper & faster to throw a few smart phones at the problem, while long term hoping for funding (& planning permission etc) to widen single track to dual track. Even rich cities like Munich in Germany don't have dual track on the ends of some suburban lines & some regional, so there'll be lots of single track globaly, with no planned short term expansion to dual track.

Sample List Of Events

Of just 2 sample coutries, In Reverse Chronological List Of Events


Back when railways were first invented, they used to avoid this by simple systems such as an Iron Ring or other Token: Driving without the token was an offence, perhaps a sacking or criminal offence ?

I commented to LK (another systems engineer): Another single track, head on train collision, that a couple of smart phones with GPS & SIM for SMS [to optional server] could have stopped!
Replies from LK:

Aircraft have had TCAS (Traffic collision avoidance system) for years, almost the same system could be used.

I wouldn't rely on the mobile network, 13, 27 or 41 MHz license free bands would be suitable. Works around corners at those frequencies, easily reach a mile, simply listen and blind transmit when there's a gap in received transmissions, but use a pseudo random delay before transmission, to reduce collisions. Maybe an argument could be made for 2.4GHz semi directional transmissions from the front and rear of each train in order to provide more frequent transmissions of data.

Amount of data transmitted would be minimal, but it would be nice to transmit as often as possible. Each line would require an ID, say 6 digit, single or 2 digit direction, 3 digit speed, latitude and longitude (not sure how many bytes would be required for these).

Would not conform to safety critical issues, but all that is supposed to exist already yet we still see accidents! It would add another level of safety over and above existing human over-rideable systems.

I wonder whether a passive radar based emergency brake system would also be useful. It would need to have GPS and a memorised map to know where are the corners and in areas with points, the points states would be useful. Otherwise false braking could occur near points. This would ideally be required on my other concept. L

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