Closer Look Into Crossing Railroad Tracks

By: Venton Blandin
By: Venton Blandin
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July 19, 2006

Train operators are continuing to have problems with people crossing railroad tracks in front of trains.

Last week, a Charlottesville man was hit by a train. These types of accidents are more common than you think. Here are a few reasons why everyone should pay close attention when a train is in motion.

"Close attention is non-stop. It's every second," said Buckingham Branch Railroad Conductor Hunter Newman.

A second is all it takes to be hit by a train. No one should put their guard down, not even for a minute, to cross a train track by foot, or car.

"It's just too many things happening out here. It doesn't look like it, but it's a lot," added Newman.

A lot of the railroad distraction includes cars trying to beat the train, people setting up shop near the tracks, and even people walking out in front of the moving train.

"You never know when you'll come around a curve. Someone could be laying on the tracks, across the tracks, [or even] an automobile," said Buckingham Branch Railroad Engineer Gary Farrish.

There are reinforcements in place to make sure those on the train are keeping an eye out. The city of Charlottesville requires all trains to travel no more than 10-miles an hour. The speed limit is set in place so the chance of hitting someone remains low.

Still, people continue to cross the tracks which increases their chance of being killed. Reporters saw four people cross the track while doing this story. None of them showed any concern for their safety.

"It's very dangerous out here for the pedestrians especially," added Farrish.

Buckingham Branch Railroad says there are about 30 unreported incidents involving trains a year.

"As soon as someone is spotted, both the engineer and the conductor will say 'I have such and such on my side of the train.' So they get closer, and they'll start ringing the bell," said Buckingham Branch Railroad.

If the person on the tracks does not hear the bell, someone on the train will hit the train's emergency brake.

The train is only able to warn pedestrians with a bell because the city of Charlottesville has an ordinance in place that says trains are not allowed to use a horn unless it is an emergency.

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