It Just Won’t Work

Ok folks, tighten your belts and hold on tight, this one is going to be a full on rant.This has to stop.  What, you ask?  People believing that if they stop their vehicle on a grade crossing that a magical bubble of protection will lower around them and keep them from harm.  Get over it people, that won’t happen, and in fact, you and your vehicle will probably be turned from a three-dimensional object into a quite flat two -dimensional one.  You will also put the crew (and passengers if it is a passenger train) at risk of injury or death.Bottom line:  if it is a grade crossing, don’t stop on it.  Gates – don’t go around them.  Flashers – if they are blinking and the bell is ringing, stop.Here’s something radical and probably excessive:  if a vehicle is found stopped or parked on a grade crossing, charge the owner with intent to injure.  No parking ticket here folks, we are talking a criminal act.  You can’t convince me that with all of the coverage the accidents are getting these days that people don’t know about what the potential outcome of stopping or parking over a crossing is, and the only reason I can come up with why they would do it would be that they were intending to harm the train.Why am I this upset?  This is the result of a truck stopped on a grade crossing in the way of a northbound Amtrak train yesterday:Do you see the locomotive sitting on its side perpendicular to the tracks?  It was being operated by a friend yesterday.  A friend who saw the truck parked across the tracks and put his train into full emergency braking.  A friend who braced himself and had to watch the collision and ride out the locomotive being flipped on its side.  A friend who was fortunate to walk away from the accident without physical injury.  A friend who will be living with the psychological effects from this accident for the rest of his life.We need to protect our employees, folks, because right now, they are the ones who are at risk.---By Steve Friedland
steven-fb.jpgSteve Friedland is a child of the railroad industry. Following summers and vacations working on the track gang for the family-owned Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he started full-time in 1994. He has worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations, and currently is a member of the management team for the company as director of operations in Morristown, N.J. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR's Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA's board of directors.