Nolanville Railroad Artificial Intelligence

state a fact about the project

Long-term blocking of railroad grade crossings by trains is becoming much more of an issue in recent years as railroad operational strategies have migrated to fewer and longer trains.  These trains can present a new or enhanced mobility problem for communities.

The city of Nolanville, a small community west of Temple Texas, has an ongoing issue with blocked railroad crossings affecting emergency services response time and the general public’s direct access to Interstate 14 and the south side of the city.  The region’s fire rescue station is next to the railroad and is impacted by prolonged blockage.  The ultimate solution is a grade separation, but this is always a very costly option.  The image below shows the alternate routes available.

Map of alternate route options in Nolanville
Map of alternate route options in Nolanville

Although not a solution to moving the track, an intermediate option is to continuously monitor the primary grade crossings in the community and provide real-time information to the emergency responders and the public via the Internet (website).  The information would be used to determine which of the routes are available in the community to get to I-14 and to help emergency services (both fire/rescue and the contract ambulance service) determine the best route to the fire station and out to a call.

The project will be the first to use TTI Rail Monitoring Research’s artificial intelligence (video analytics / deep learning) grade crossing monitor.  The AI concept brings a great deal of flexibility in deployment and cost savings over other traditional solutions.  The system will deploy 2 primary-grade crossing monitors, with one at a solar site, in Nolanville.  The innovative project was highlighted in a TxDOT all districts meeting with the following video.

This video shows a different situation but not uncommon.  The video starts with a train pulled by the camera and being successfully detected.  After the train departs, the railroad grade crossing system begins to malfunction.  The railroad system appears to get false train detects which causes their system to repeatedly activate leading to traffic issues.  A member of the nearby fire rescue station comes to investigate and calls in the situation.  The video ends with the railroad signal maintainer arriving to repair their system.