Saturday, January 16, 2010

Train follow-up

The Clarion Content was just railing the Obama administration recently about its lack of relative expenditure on building and repairing train infrastructure in America. We were reminded here in North Carolina, that this lack of spending has real costs in terms of safety, and consequently lives. At a local railroad crossing long renowned for malfunctioning signals and crossing arms, a mother and her five year-old son were killed by an Amtrak passenger train Christmas week. A three month-old daughter survived. Nearby office workers in the small town of Efland where the accident happened said the crossing's signals and arms malfunctioned so frequently that one kept the railroad company's number on her desk.

Another local citizen was quoted in the Durham Herald-Sun "They've [the crossing arms] been going just wacko, up and down up and down, and there's no train coming. We've made calls before [to the Orange County Sheriff's Office] to report the problem." The grieving father told the press in the days after the accident that his wife and kids were on the way to a dentist appointment for his son and running early for it. He believed there is no way his twenty-six year-old wife tried to beat the train or the crossing arms. In his view the signal or crossing arms must have malfunctioned again.

According to, "In the last 10 years, there have been more than 30,000 railroad crossing accidents and more than 3,600 train accident deaths." Which in all honesty, the Clarion Content has to concede is not that many considering the amount of trains on the rails and cars on the roads. However, the need to modernize the American rail system offers an opportunity to attack any of these deaths, like those in Efland, NC that come from old, dilapidated, inadequate equipment.

In another tragic accident from faulty crossing arms, this one in Minnesota, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp was fined an additional $4 million dollars by the state for attempting to cover-up the equipment's failure. Much like their initial reaction to the Efland accident, the railroad immediately attempted to blame the deceased victim. This is exactly the kind of situation where the government has a role to step in and protect the American taxpayer from a corporation with far deeper pockets for lawyers in the land of liability.

We urge our readers to please exercise caution at railroad crossings.

No comments: