Transport Safety Blog NZ : New Level Crossing Proposal At Islington, Christchurch

First published on Transport Safety Blog NZ

Read More

Christchurch City Council in 2017 opened consultation on a proposal to close the existing intersection of Halswell Junction Road and Waterloo Road, Islington, and in so doing also close the level crossing over the Main South Line made by Halswell Junction Road immediately adjacent to this intersection. Whilst it is not known at this time if any particular safety issues were relevant to the decision, the level crossing design was dangerous in that there was not sufficient stacking distance for vehicles to stop at the intersection and be clear of the level crossing, and also no safety features specifically addressing a high workload for drivers making a right turn from Waterloo Road onto Halswell Junction Road and being unable to stop if the crossing alarms are operating when they reach the crossing. The proposal is for this section of roadway to be replaced by a new section starting from the same point where Halswell Junction Road crosses over Foremans Road and going in a different direction to cross over the railway tracks at a new level crossing and meet Waterloo Road at a 90 degree bend in the road, thus creating a new T intersection immediately adjacent to the new railway crossing. The plans were approved and the proposal put into the long term community plan for consideration in future years. The project has now moved to the design phase, and is currently waiting for Kiwirail to complete the design work needed on the new level crossing, which will have lights, bells and barrier arms installed. The Council yesterday considered a request for increased funding for the project, which is now expected to cost $11.1 million. The expected date of completion of the project is June 2023.

A map of the project, which is sited immediately east of the old Islington Station, is shown below:

Map of new road and level crossing and existing level crossing at Islington. The road intersection at Foremans Road will be realigned (shown red), and the new road will form a T intersection immediately north of the new level crossing (shown blue). The old level crossing (shown purple) will be closed.

Below is the design layout of the new level crossing:

New level crossing of Main South Line at Islington.

TSBNZ is concerned that the placement of a railway crossing immediately to one side of a road intersection is unsafe design practice as this generally results in there being insufficient stacking distance for vehicles to be clear of both the intersection and the railway crossing without fouling either. As the above diagram shows, this is especially relevant for traffic approaching the crossing from Waterloo Road at the north side of the T intersection. This traffic is supposed to stop 50 metres from the crossing to alleviate the lack of stacking distance. At the time of writing, TSBNZ does not have knowledge of whether this factor was taken into account in the design of the crossing. The intersection will be controlled by traffic signals; it is also not known if these signals will be linked to the railway crossing alarms to resolve conflicting indications (a green traffic light and operating alarms / barriers). The main safety issue observable is the 50 metre distance from the stopping point to the crossing, in that it may be possible for a heavy vehicle starting from a standstill at the traffic lights to be unable to stop if the alarms are operating by the time it reaches the railway tracks. An OIA request to CCC is likely to be made to request further information in relation to these concerns.