Transport Canada has asked a team of University of Waterloo experts to study the safety of level crossings across the country saying that the university is the only known institution in North America with the required specialized knowledge and expertise.
Liping Fu, a civil and environmental engineering professor, is leading the rail crossing research at the university, which includes the development of GradeX, a web-based software program that can identify crossings, calculate the risk and then rank the safety level of crossings from high to low.
“GradeX is a scientific model-based, proactive tool that evaluates risk level while taking into account the attributes of the crossing and its collision history. Every year Transport Canada spends millions of dollars on upgrading crossings. GradeX helps the department narrow down exactly which of them require work to prevent future accidents,” says Fu, adding that work on creating GradeX began about 10 years ago.
Besides Transport Canada, Fu has provided services to transportation agencies including the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. He sits on the Washington, D.C.-based Transportation Research Board's Paratransit committee and is a member of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.
Fu's team, which includes other engineering faculty members, graduate students and alumni, is the intended recipient of a Transport Canada $120,000 study to gauge the effectiveness of GradeX at level crossings and identify ways to improve safety.