Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety

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Course Overview

Reducing train-vehicle collisions and pedestrian deaths from train accidents is a goal every railroad engineer should try to reach. In this course, you will learn the basic principles of highway-rail crossing safety and how to apply them to new and existing projects to avoid accidents.

Who Should Attend?

  • Railroad and signal engineers 
  • Railroad crossing safety and public projects managers 
  • Railroad safety personnel 
  • Transportation and safety engineers 
  • Local/state/federal and public works personnel 
  • Consulting engineers involved in the design, construction, and operation of highways and highway traffic operations in close proximity to rail lines

Additional Information

The March 2021 offering of this course is being offered in four 4-hour modules in a live online format Monday, March 29th thru Thursday April 1st from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM central time each day. Details on how to access the course will be sent with registration confirmation. No software is required to participate in the online course. The course is accessed via your internet browser.

Course Outline

Introduction The Challenge: Reduce Vehicle-Train Collisions and Pedestrian Deaths

  • History and characterization of rail crossing safety
  • Public funding
  • Current progress

Grade Crossing Traffic Control Devices

  • Types of devices
  • Selection criteria
  • Costs and maintenance
  • Guidelines: FHWA, NCHRP, NCUTCD, and MUTCD

Train Detection and Warning Systems

  • Regulations, standards, NTSB recommendations, and industry practices
  • Basic train detection types
  • Technical advances
  • Issues and complications (at multiple crossings and/or railroad control points)
  • Deciding system types and warning device placements (cantilevers, gates, lengths and placements, additional lights, control cabinets, etc.)

Interconnection of Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Warning Systems and Highway

Traffic Signals

  • Reference documents, guidance and standards, and definitions
  • Railway warning times and APT
  • Preempt traps
  • Interconnect circuits

Grade Separations and Grade Crossing Surfaces

  • When to grade separate
  • Grade separation design considerations
  • Grade crossing design
  • Crossing surface material selection
  • Crossing construction, reconstruction, and maintenance

Crossing Closures and Consolidation Strategies

  • Evaluation and identification of projects
  • Long-range planning
  • Financial incentives
  • Public relations
  • Case study US DOT

National Grade Crossing Inventory Program

  • Role, purpose, and use
  • Mandatory requirements of the

Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008

  • Updating crossing data in the national file
  • Reconciling railroad and state data files with the national file
  • Identifying the riskiest crossings using the

Accident Prediction Model

The Program Roles of State and Local Governments and Railroads

  • Available federal programs and state programs
  • How programs are administered and carried out
  • Project selection criteria
  • Engineering and estimating
  • Contract process

Public Education and Outreach Programs

  • Operation Lifesaver: rail safety education
  • Statistics and results
  • Educational resources
  • Training programs

Quiet Zones

  • FRA regulations
  • Vehicle and pedestrian issues
  • Mitigations and supplementary safety measures
  • Costs, experiences, and future measures to reduce noise and improve safety


"This course was very well presented…Excellent course, with great speakers, wonderful presentations, a good job."
—Brian Mueller, Systems Signal Engineer Regional Transportation District, Denver, Colorado

"My overall rating of the course is…'Excellent;' and will be useful in my job."
—Johnathan Bragg, Grand Lodge Representative Brotherhood of RR Signalman

"A very good course and met my expectations."
—Douglas Tracy, Signal Engineer CONRAIL


John Sharkey

John T. Sharkey is Vice President–Signal Engineering for Campbell Technology Corporation, which provides design, project management, construction inspection and other consulting engineering services for railroads, public agencies and other consulting engineering firms.

Mark Morrison

Mark recently retired after more than 30 years with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.  Working for WisDOT Mark’s job duties have included designing highways, construction of highways and highway bridges, traffic safety engineering and railroad engineering.  The majority of Mark’s career has dealt with safety engineering focusing on highway-railroad grade crossings.  Mark served as the State of Wisconsin’s Grade Crossing Safety Engineer and was head of WisDOT’s Railroad Engineering Unit.  Mark is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Mark served on the National Committee for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) technical subcommittee for Part 8 of the MUTCD.  Mark has been an Operation Lifesaver presenter since 2000.  Mark has made numerous presentations on grade crossing safety at various national, regional and state conferences.

Tammy Wagner

Tammy has been employed by the Federal Railroad Administration for more than 15 years and serves as a Grade Crossing Railroad Safety Specialist. Tammy maintains a close working relationship with railroads, state, local and federal agencies to ensure safety compliance and implement safety programs aimed at reducing collisions, injuries, and fatalities on or near railroad property.

James Kveton

Jim has been the Chief of Police for the Town of St. John, Indiana since December of 2015.  Prior to that he worked for the Elmhurst Police Department for 30 years. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Lewis University in Criminal Social Justice. Jim is a 1999 graduate of the Northwestern University School of Staff and Command.

Jim is an Operation Lifesaver presenter and advocate for rail crossing safety.  He has implemented a number of programs promoting awareness of crossing safety and the dangers of trespassing on rail property.

Dave Peterson

Dave is the Program Director for the University of WisconsinMadison Railroad Engineering and Operations Program. The program consists of 12 courses conducted annually on topics ranging from introduction to railroad engineering and operations to signaling, bridges, crossings, and traction power.

Upcoming dates (1)

Mar. 29 - Apr. 1, 2021

Enroll Now

Program Director

Dave Peterson


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We can deliver this course as an on-site learning experience tailored to your organization’s specific training needs.