Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - interchange/transfer, planning - safety/accidents, place - europe, mode - rail


United States, Technology transfer, Spain, Road safety, Railroad safety, Railroad grade crossings, Public policy, Netherlands, Level crossings, Italy, Highway safety, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, High speed trains, High speed rail, Grade separations, Grade crossings, Grade crossing signals, Grade crossing protection systems, Germany, Europe, Denmark, Active grade crossing warning systems


To learn how other countries with high-speed rail operations and large numbers of grade crossings addressed issues of rail crossing safety, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sponsored an international technology reconnaissance tour to Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The scan team found several innovative approaches that could provide solutions to highway-rail grade crossing issues in the United States. Spain, Italy, and Germany each have active programs under way to eliminate highway-rail grade crossings. Crossing closure is a national policy, and with the exception of a few grade crossings in Italy, all high-speed rail crossings are grade separated. Grade separation projects are performed by fabricating the tunnel structure outside the railroad in an excavation and then hydraulically inserting it under the tracks. Train detection by magnetic induction wheel sensors in lieu of track circuits was used in a number of the countries visited. Video monitoring of crossings was found to be in use to provide information on crossings being clear of obstructions.