Be alert at RR crossings


RIO GRANDE COUNTY—Two recent train accidents occurring on clear days at crossings equipped with flashing lights and bells have evoked a warning from local railroad company San Luis Central.

Railroad general manager Tom Tancula stated that during recent incidents on March 1 and 16, the locomotive horn was blown in advance of the road crossing. An independent witness verified the horn warning following the March 16 crash. Crossing signals were inspected following both accidents and deemed to be in proper working condition as well.

Luckily, there were no injuries reported in the accidents; however, Tancula fears that might not be the outcome if it happens again. He asks that drivers slow down and be aware of the train crossings.
On March 16 about 1:30 p.m., a truck occupied by the driver and his two small children was hit by a train at the 7 Mile Road.

The train’s leading end headlight was on and set at the bright level. The engineer noted that the crossing lights were flashing. Prior to entering the road crossing, the engineer blew his horn with a long, long, short and then a final long signal. He blew the final long signal prior to entering the road and occupying the crossing.

Prior to entering the crossing, the engineer noted an eastbound red Ford F150 Crew Cab pickup truck entering the crossing. The truck was driving east, and swerved south of the road pavement. The engineer blew and held the final long horn signal and made an emergency brake application with his automatic brake valve, and the train struck the left side front fender and driver’s door of the truck with the locomotive front snow plow pilot and front right steps and railing.

After the accident, the crossing signals were inspected and found to be in proper operating condition.
The pick-up driver stated he did not see the flashing crossing lights.

An independent witness stated that he heard the locomotive horn and observed the flashing crossing lights before impact. The witness stated that the truck passed him while he was standing south of the road in a parking lot.

The locomotive sustained damage to the front right railing, and to the front right corner of the front snowplow.

The March 1 collision occurred about 9:30 a.m. at Mile Post 8.7, FRA Crossing Number 862069A, the road crossing with County Highway 6 North. The locomotive engineer started ringing the locomotive bell. His leading end headlight was on and set at the bright level. The engineer noted that the crossing lights were flashing. Prior to entering the road crossing, the engineer blew his horn with a long, long, short and then a final long signal. He blew the final long signal prior to entering the road and occupying the crossing.

Prior to entering the crossing, the engineer noted a westbound tractor trailer rig approaching the crossing at a high rate of speed. The engineer made an emergency brake application with his automatic brake valve, and the train struck the left inboard wheel set of the semi trailer with the locomotive snowplow pilot and coupler.

After the accident, the crossing signals were inspected and found to be in proper operating condition.

The truck driver admitted that he saw the flashing crossing lights, but did not hear the crossing signal bell and did not hear the locomotive horn. The driver initially applied the truck brakes, but released the brakes and accelerated the truck in an attempt to avoid a collision with the truck tractor and the locomotive.

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