Author Topic: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)  (Read 1680 times)

OrangeAndBlack

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On one hand, I think this story is ridiculous. On a local level, Terre Haute has been cheap and reactive instead of proactive for nearly all of its history when it comes to dealing with its many railroad crossings. The ceaseless moaning about it is dumb if you have any knowledge of railroads at all. (It is getting a bridge at 13th and 8th Avenues which will help a lot.)

On the other hand? I’ve said many times on here that political involvement in this issue was inevitable because it’s a can’t lose issue for both parties. People complain about the monolithic railroad, that, in many cases, has no direct local tie to the populace? And, thus, no constituency of its own? Low-hanging fruit.

That, to me, is the crux of why this is a lightning rod for political involvement. Railroads no longer have any ties to the communities they run through. The days where Uncle So-And-So worked the tower or worked in the yard are mostly gone. To the everyday person, and 99 percent of the people have zero tie to the railroad industry, railroads are a nuisance that need to be governed to their lives, not the other way around.

So good luck, railroad industry, when it comes to rising up against that tide of public sentiment which will eventually affect judicial sentiment too and already is beginning to permeate the political discourse.

And to be honest? The railroads do themselves zero favors by hiding behind federal law to do little to nothing about mitigating these issues themselves. A little PR and public education would go a long ways towards smoothing thinge out.

https://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/often-stopped-by-trains-feds-want-to-know/article_2353df9e-f50f-51a9-9057-ff3446ee9c03.html

Rick

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2019, 01:16:03 PM »
I don’t know the rail traffic patterns in terre haute, so I’m taking a stab at this with a blind eye.  Why are trains stopping for long periods of times multiple times a day?   Are these a local that services the city?  I doubt it because locals aren’t usually very long and typically occupy only a crossing or two.  Are these trains road trains?  If so, why are they stopping in town and not holding out outside the city?  If they are holding out in the city then why so long?  Poor train management by the crew, not holding out where they are suppose to(signal indication railroad some crews run by).  Poor dispatching, by person or computer, not sure if csx has implemented that yet.  Is the holdout in town and only blocks a few crossings and the public exaggerating the crossings being blocked and the distances they travel to get around?  As for terre haute, why haven’t they put in a couple of under or over passes if this has been a problem for so long?  Elkhart and Goshen have done this 3-4 times in the last decade with mostly government funds, why hasn’t terre haute tried the same until just now? 

I get it not wanting to be blocked by trains.  Nobody likes it even for a few minutes and if that’s all it is then suck it up.  However, if they are legitimately blocking multiple crossings for 20-30 mins or more, multiple times a day, that’s ridiculous and it absolutely needs to be addressed. 


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OrangeAndBlack

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2019, 01:48:02 PM »
Terre Haute is a bit unique (maybe) in that two CSX mainlines (Indy Sub, C&ED) intersect right through the heart of the city. There’s not one bridge over any of the portion where they come together, though one is planned for 13th Street where the two lines come together.

Add to that? Duane Yard is on the north side on the old NYC/Conrail Indy-St. Louis line. Baker Yard is south on the old C&EI Chicago-Evansville line. Even INRD plays a role in the crossing issue as Van Yard sits right next to a crossing for four-lane Fruitridge Avenue, a main drag.

Though Duane has more capacity, I think it’s actually less of a problem than Baker can be. Most of the stopped trains, in my observation, occur on the south side of TH at Baker. It is not unusual for a train to stop at or near Baker and it will block 10 crossings in TH all the way back to downtown. There is no viable way around it ... and this is coming from someone who’s a road and railroad geek, not an everyday someone who only pays attention to the roads they normally drive on.

The new Margaret Avenue bridge helps, but its on the south end of Baker ...  the wrong direction from the business and population centers.

That’s not to say that stoppages don’t happen north side either. They do there too.

As for TH bridges? Yes, the city has been monumentally stupid about it for years.How there’s no downtown bridge over the CE&D is insane.

And then they’ve had bad luck/planning.  When a set of bridges was built in the 80s, one was for U.S. 41 over Conrail (still heavily used by CSX), but the other big one was for Fruitridge Avenue over the then-Conrail, ex-PRR line. The line was abandoned within a year or two of when the bridge was built. Now, it’s a white elephant ... and it probably has at least a little to do with TH’s recent reluctance to build bridges. (Though it doesn’t explain the previous 70 years of reluctance!)

What doesn’t help matters, PR-wise, is when you have an employee hoping off his stopped train to buy donuts while crossings were blocked, of which video footage was captured recently in TH. I know it’s minor in the grand scheme, but for the populace? It comes off as a railroad thumbing its nose at their concerns. Whoever did that did a lot of damage and poured fuel on the fire of a lot of existing local frustration about railroads.

Rick

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2019, 02:43:31 PM »
Ok, the south side of town getting into baker yard.  Why is it taking so long for a train to yard into baker?    Is this a manned yard(yardmaster or Trainmaster, uman on duty)?  Are they building a train, setting out a train, are the tracks very short requiring multiple moves?  10 crossings, that must be one lengthy train or they have very close crossings to one another.  If the dispatcher or whoever is in charge knows they can’t get in then why aren’t they holding out outside the city?  Is this also a possible crew issue with one or both of them dragging their feet?  I know that’s a question that non of us can really answer unless you know a crew member.  Every railroad has a few of them, unfortunately.


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OrangeAndBlack

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2019, 03:57:29 PM »
Can’t answer the railroad yard question, but yes, it’s a combination of long trains, plus, close together crossings. And, yes, it seems worse in the precision railroading age.

Hulman Street, a main drag in TH, is right at the north end of Baker, just like Margaret was right at the south end before it bridge was built. Blocking Hulman is one thing, given its proximity, but trains are regularly long enough to reach back to downtown TH.

I’ve seen trains block Hulman, Washington, College, 13th, Crawford, Poplar, Walnut, Ohio, Wabash and Chestnut all at once with some regularity, maybe three times a month. For a while, there was one that arrived about 5:15 p.m. like clockwork ... right when people working downtown are heading east to go home.

My “world record” was all of the above crossings plus Spruce (north), Margaret (before the bridge), Davis and Springhill. It was likely two trains, one entering Baker from each side, but it had the entire south side of TH choked off for almost an hour.

It’s stuff like that which gets regular folks riled up ... though at the same time “regular folks” need to pony up for some bridges too.

ac4400cw

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2019, 04:58:34 PM »
Fostoria Ohio has the same grade crossing problem but in a slightly smaller town.  They decided to add a Railfan park and make money off of the fans.
Locals don't seem to mind that much about the trains.   The college kids should be glad about all the grade crossings.  Gives them more time to check FaceBook.

BourdonBoy

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2019, 01:16:01 PM »
So I just happened to see this Chicago Tribune news release.

Next, will the Feds will create something similar for people to complain about ordinary traffic jams?   ::)

https://indianaeconomicdigest.com/Content/Most-Recent/Infrastructure/Article/Federal-Railroad-Administration-creates-path-to-report-stopped-stalled-trains-www-fra-dot-gov-blockedcrossings/31/67/98336/5412a100-14d7-41f3-b191-b5fa187eadc0?utm_medium=email&utm_source=enl&utm_campaign=0

FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION CREATES PATH TO REPORT STOPPED, STALLED TRAINS
Tim Zorn, Freelance Reporter, (Merrillville) Post-Tribune
Tuesday, December 24, 2019 11:55 AM

Sitting in your car at a railroad crossing while a long freight train just stands there? Now you can complain to a federal agency about it.

The Federal Railroad Administration has set up a web page for citizens and police officers to report trains that block road and highway crossings for extended periods of time. The page is www.fra.dot.gov/blockedcrossings.

The FRA hopes data gathered there “will help us identify where chronic problems exist and better assess the underlying causes and overall impacts of blocked crossings – locally, regionally and nationwide,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in a release.

The railroad agency noted that blocked crossings can create safety risks, particularly when trains hinder vehicle and pedestrian movement for a long time.

Police have reported that frustrated drivers sometimes engage in risky driving when they see a crossing is blocked or about to be blocked. People also have been seen crawling or climbing through stopped trains, risking serious injury if a train suddenly started moving.

The problem is particularly acute in Northwest Indiana, with some 886 railroad crossings in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, the network particularly dense as railroad lines converge on Chicago.

“It’s just the same as it’s always been – crossings being blocked, not just for minutes but sometimes for hours at a time,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said.

Police in Indiana formerly could issue a fine to a railroad if a train sat on a crossing for more than 10 minutes, but the Indiana Supreme Court last year determined that federal railroad regulations override state laws on blocked crossings.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission formed a task force, headed by McDermott, about a year ago to see if they could come up with a solution. The group met for the last time in September.

“The problem’s not going to be solved locally,” McDermott said. “It’s got to be solved Washington, D.C.”

The new FRA web page is “a step in the right direction,” he said. “Maybe they’ll get an idea of how bad this problem is.”

Railroad consultant William Moore, who gathered data on some of Northwest Indiana’s worst railroad crossing blockages for the NIRPC task force, said it’ll be interesting to see what the FRA does with the information it collects.

“If they’re getting that information to draw up legislation, then it’s a significant step,” he said.

trainmaster53

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2019, 08:11:46 PM »
What has happened to Indiana Operation Life Saver. I use to help out with it and I have seen Nothing from them about any of these Grade Crossing Accidents and Grade Crossing Safety for a Very Long Time. Has Indiana Operation Life Saver Fallen by Way of Fat Sam? Who is Running it now.

trainmaster53

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2019, 09:02:33 PM »
In 2015 There were 11 Car Train Fatalities verses 10 in 2016. In 2015 There were 11 Trespasser Fatalities verse 7 in 2016. Indiana was Ranked 4th. Nothing has been put out since 2016. Wonder why nothing has been updated? Makes no since.

crblue

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2019, 07:48:27 AM »
“The problem’s not going to be solved locally,” McDermott said. “It’s got to be solved Washington, D.C.”
Uh, no. The problem can be solved locally by building overpasses or underpasses to provide grade separation. I don't see how federal legislation can magically eliminate crossings blocked by trains.

CSX_CO

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2019, 08:21:37 AM »
Uh, no. The problem can be solved locally by building overpasses or underpasses to provide grade separation. I don't see how federal legislation can magically eliminate crossings blocked by trains.

But they’d have to use LOCAL money to pay for it.  Can’t run on that. Have to run on getting Washington to pay for it...

rrnut282

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2019, 10:13:07 AM »
If the case can be made, 80% will be federal funds, the rest, state or local.  And the project will take five years to work through the system.  If there is not a good case (a vanity project), then it would be locally funded and can be built more quickly, or not. 

You have to show a lot of delay time (not just once or twice a day) and/or accidents to made a good case to get federal money. 
rrnut2-8-2
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Rick

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Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2019, 12:09:41 PM »
What has happened to Indiana Operation Life Saver. I use to help out with it and I have seen Nothing from them about any of these Grade Crossing Accidents and Grade Crossing Safety for a Very Long Time. Has Indiana Operation Life Saver Fallen by Way of Fat Sam? Who is Running it now.
It’s still out there.  Ns joins with them once or twice a year in Elkhart at busy grade crossings close to intersections to hand out brochures. 


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« Last Edit: December 28, 2019, 07:04:54 PM by Rick »

Webnauseum

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2020, 10:51:31 AM »
Seems to me that since it was the Feds who gave RR's immunity to local attempts to regulate, then it's only to be expected that the Feds create some form of a control measure.

I mean come on, we have to have some way to put "the hurry" on those conductors changing broken knuckles don't we?    ;D

trainmaster53

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2020, 01:08:37 PM »
With the way the Roadbeds are, You cannot expect the Conductors to get in a Hurry. That is a Good way to get someone hurt. Safety is a Big Factor. If anything Quit making these Freight Trains over Two Miles long (200-250 Cars). It seems that all they want to do is Double these Trains up and Cut Crews. That needs to stop. Quit trying to cut Corners and crews to save money. It Not a Money Game.

Rick

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2020, 02:18:16 PM »
With the way the Roadbeds are, You cannot expect the Conductors to get in a Hurry. That is a Good way to get someone hurt. Safety is a Big Factor. If anything Quit making these Freight Trains over Two Miles long (200-250 Cars). It seems that all they want to do is Double these Trains up and Cut Crews. That needs to stop. Quit trying to cut Corners and crews to save money. It Not a Money Game.
You should see or hear what happens when you go into emergency in a crossover on a busy double main.  Everyone and their brother is getting called to go assist. 

Classic conversation I heard one night after the dispatcher and chief asked how it was going, mind you this was 3 times in 15-20 minutes, response was “the next time I get asked that question we’re going to be getting recrewed out here.  I’ll let you know when we are ready to proceed”.  They had only been on duty 6 hours.  . The conductor is very good and doesn’t mess around.  Does his job and does it efficiently until management pushes too hard then everyone drags their feet for awhile. 


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