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As a train approaches the Smithfield Station heading east to Grapevine, the crossing gates at Smithfield, Davis and Main all go down. If it is a freight train or the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, the train will continue through and the gates at each crossing will come up as soon as the train passes. If it is a TEXRail train, it will stop at the station and board passengers. The gates at Davis and Main usually stay down while the train is boarding. The crossing gates on Davis and Main are down for about 3 to 4 minutes for each eastbound TEXRail train. Once the crossing gates go up, traffic on Davis gets a green light first, followed by Main Street. Trinity Metro TEXRail is in the process of reviewing crossings to determine what changes can be made to minimize interruptions to traffic flow while still maintaining federal safety requirements.
As a train approaches the Smithfield Station heading westbound to Fort Worth, the crossing gates at Smithfield and Holiday all go down. If it is a freight train or the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, the train will continue through and the gates at each crossing will come up as soon as the train passes. If it is a TEXRail train that stops for boarding at the station, the gates at the crossings may go back up while the train is stopped. Then they go back down when the train leaves the station again. Trinity Metro TEXRail is in the process of reviewing crossings to determine what changes can be made to minimize interruptions to traffic flow while still maintaining federal safety requirements.
Train horns are required by federal law to be sounded at all public crossings, 24 hours a day, to warn motorists and pedestrians that a train is approaching. A quiet zone is a stretch of track where the Federal Railroad Administration has agreed that trains are not required to routinely sound the horn at each public crossing except in emergencies, such as someone on the track or workers within 25 feet of the track or at the discretion of the crew, as appropriate.
Quiet Zones have been established for all 10 railroad crossings in North Richland Hills. The Quiet Zone became effective when TEXRail service began on January 5, 2019. Residents should now be hearing far fewer train horns than before. Keep in mind that a train engineer may still sound the horn in emergencies such as a vehicle or person on the track, workers within 25 feet of the track or at the discretion of the crew as needed for safety.
While horns are no longer routinely sounded at each crossing, bells do begin to sound when the crossing signal is activated and continue until the train completely passes through the intersection. The bells are required by federal law to warn those who may be visually impaired.
At the rail stations, train operators also use bells to alert passengers of an incoming/outgoing train to/from the station.
There are different options available to make a railroad crossing eligible for the quiet zone designation. All ten of NRH’s crossings received safety improvements and equipment necessary to qualify them for this designation. In most crossing locations, a median is included, but is not always required. The alternative to a median is to include a “quad gate” design, which means that there are gates across the roadway on both sides of the tracks. With raised medians, the railroad is only required to provide gate arms on one side of the tracks since the median would prevent a driver from crossing into the oncoming lane to avoid the gate.
Both Eden Road and Holiday Lane have the quad gate design with no median. Browning, Rufe Snow, Iron Horse, Mid-Cities, Main Street, and Smithfield have medians with two gated roadway legs. Finally, Davis and Precinct Line have both medians and quad gates. Again, all crossings in NRH are part of the quiet zone.
Iron Horse Station is located at 6351 Iron Horse Blvd. This is just north of Loop 820 near the intersection of Iron Horse Boulevard and Boulder Drive. The station has 386 parking spaces and 3 loading zones.
Smithfield Station is located at 6420 Smithfield Rd. This is about one block north of Smithfield Road and Mid Cities Boulevard. The station has 549 parking spaces and 3 loading zones.
Trinity Metro allows up to 20-hour free parking at the TEXRail stations in North Richland Hills, so if you work a night shift or a double shift, or plan a day trip, you will be able to park in the TEXRail station lot. If you are planning to be out of town for two or more days, you should get a ride to the station and use the easy drop-off lanes.
The issue regarding long term parking is that if the rail station lots fill up with travelers who are gone days or weeks at a time, then there will not be enough space for daily commuters to park. Options for long term parking are being explored and could be added at a later date.
Starting July 28, 2019 TEXRail service increased with 30 minute frequency during peak times. During off peak times trains continue to run once an hour. Passengers should consult the online schedule prior to departure. The daily service schedule can be found at https://ridetrinitymetro.org/texrail/schedules/.
Depending on each location and the speed of the train when crossing, the train clears most intersections in about a minute, generally less time than is required by a normal traffic signal cycle. Some crossings are a little longer due to unique circumstances at that particular crossing.
Median barriers are a safety enhancement that restrict driver access to the opposing lanes and prevent vehicle drivers from driving through or around lowered crossing gates. These barriers have shown a significant reduction in the number of vehicle violations at crossing gates. For railroad crossings to be designated as a Quiet Zone, safety enhancements such as the median barriers must be in place.
Studies have shown that this DMU type of train creates 72% less pollution and 75% less noise than a standard locomotive. The TEXRail Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) shows that the sound level for these trains at full throttle is under 75 dBA at 50 feet (equivalent to the sound of a household vacuum cleaner) and below 50 dBA at 100 feet (equivalent to the sound of a normal level conversation). In addition, the railroad bed is being reconstructed and new concrete rail ties installed. This will reduce the sound and vibration coming from the track itself.
The City of North Richland Hills has established “Transit Oriented Development” (TOD) districts around both station locations to allow mixed use development that will be accessed by the transit stop in a walkable environment.
Developments in the Smithfield area include:
Developments in the Iron Horse area include:
Given the limited amount of vacant land remaining in NRH and the continued desirability and attractiveness of our community, the Iron Horse and Smithfield areas would have developed in one form or another even without TEXRail. The rail station provides an opportunity for more efficient, higher quality and higher value development in these areas.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments and regional transportation authorities have been planning for more than a decade to extend passenger rail service to many communities in Tarrant, Dallas, Denton and Collin counties with connections to the existing transit systems in Dallas and Fort Worth.
In 2007, North Richland Hills was designated for future TEXRail stops by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and Fort Worth Transportation Authority (now known as Trinity Metro) and the city updated its Comprehensive Land Use Plan to incorporate the two commuter rail districts.
In 2009, the city held public hearings and adopted zoning codes and development regulations to guide future development in the Iron Horse and Smithfield stations.
In 2015, the City formalized an agreement with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (Trinity Metro) for the two rail station locations.
Questions about TEXRail may be directed to Trinity Metro at 817-215-8600 or via their website at https://ridetrinitymetro.org/contact-us/.
You are also welcome to contact NRH Planning & Development at 817-427-6330 with any questions that you have.