Field Testing of Intrusion Detection Technologies for High-Speed Rail Crossings

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, operations - performance, planning - safety/accidents, organisation - performance, mode - rail, mode - pedestrian


Video cameras, Traffic safety, Technological innovations, Railroad grade crossings, Performance tests, Pedestrian safety, Microwave detectors, Life tests, Level crossings, Intrusion detection, In situ tests, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, High speed trains, Grade crossings, Field tests, Detection and identification systems, Camcorders, Advanced technology


High-speed passenger rail is becoming a more common form of mass transit. A concern when high-speed rail systems are implemented is the provision of intrusion detection at rail crossings. High-speed rail equipment is lighter and faster than traditional rail equipment, and even small objects can damage or derail it. The goal of this project was to field-test two intrusion detection technologies—a video detection system and a microwave detection system—and determine whether they could effectively be used for intrusion detection at rail crossings. The tests used objects of varying size, color, and material composition to serve as intruders. The detection systems used were chosen as a result of several previously performed laboratory studies that suggested that both systems, though designed to detect automobiles and pedestrians, could meet the specified requirements. Field testing, however, showed that the performance level of both systems was lower than expected. Therefore, the conclusion was drawn that the technologies would require much testing and refinement before either could be implemented as a stand-alone rail crossing intrusion detection system. This report describes the field testing that was done to evaluate these systems. It includes a description of the detection systems, the test methods and results, and conclusions about the viability of these technologies for this particular application.