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Train hits wrecker left on tracks (IN)


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A CSX train car smashed into a tow truck left on the tracks Tuesday evening, according to DeKalb County police.

Officers said they responded to a report of a stalled vehicle about 8 p.m. Police called a wrecker service that attempted to pull a 2000 Toyota Camry across the tracks in the 6000 block of Indiana 101.

Police said they told the wrecker crew to remove their equipment from the tracks, but they were slow to respond.

Officers listed damage to the car and tow truck as a total loss.

There were no injuries.

 

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... talk about the need for quick clear ... there's no need to dally when working on and around railroad right-of-ways, but some recoveries take time to meet on-scene challenges that cops don't understand.   R.

Randall C. Resch

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Rail Road Halts All Train Traffic on those tracks or I do not work on them. "PERIOD"

 

I do not care if the vehicle on the tracks is struck as a result of my not move until they stop.

 

Better one vehicle then two, even if your recovery unit is clear of the tracks the train will drag it with the vehicle.

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I agree. Train recoveries ARE risky business ... but ... how do you know 100-percent that the train's engineer has been 10-percent notified and stopped? Example: A Southern California case where a 9x car-carrying semi was high-centered on a set of tracks in a highly populated beach community. Even with the Sheriff notified via 911, the semi's driver had the sense to disconnect the tractor from the car carrier, however, before arrival of the tow company, an Amtrak train drove through the center of the stuck car carrier; thankfully, no one was injured.  If a 911 call has been placed and calls made to the railroad police, what guarantees are in-place to ensure the train's driver has been notified?

Randall C. Resch

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You are relying totally on the chain of command in regards to communication. When I get a call for a vehicle on or near the tracks the first thing I ask before I leave to go to the scene is "Are the Trains Stopped" generally they have been alerted, often they already know about the situation. However, there are those time that the communication broke down and that is why I ask. I need to be very confident that there is no RR Traffic. Even at that sometimes they will creep up within view. Keep in mind these trains are on a schedule just as the trucks hauling freight on the roadways are. Every minute they loose is money. Watch for more states to begin fining everyone involved when the clearance exceeds acceptable standards. Communication is the key in all of these instances, be it with the rail road, local and state authorities, even your own dispatch. Many tow companies just have not reached this level of professionalism yet. However, those who have attending the TIM training have a better common sense understanding and approach these situation with a different outlook.

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I was told years ago by an engineer with Missouri Pacific that if there was an emergency that required a train to be stopped, and only to avoid a collision, lay a steel bar from track to track, or attached a jumper cable from track to track.  He said this would throw red signals in both directions to the first signal box.  He also warned my that if this is done, it had better be to stop a catastrophic event.  The railroad will go after whoever set the stop signals in motion.   Might want to check this out as still being the situation?

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HI Silverhawk ... thanks for your idea, but I think shorting the tracks has huge liability and associated dangers. Two-years ago I contacted California's Operation Lifesaver regarding tow truck response on railroad right-of-ways. I was to told to NEVER cross-jump the tracks with a steel bar or jumper cables as it has potential to short-out the rail switching device. Doing so could possibly cause a derailment of a different train where the short occurs. (Imagine that bit of information leaking out to a few teenagers with vandalism in mind). My law enforcement experience and interaction with rail right-of-ways suggest using road flares as an EMERGENCY RED SIGNAL to visually notify the train's engineer that a right now emergency is on the tracks with hope to try and stop an approaching train. The problem with flares ... they have to be situated at least a mile in both directions. I suggest contact your local fire department to learned what their response protocol is by state while continuing to employ a call to 911 when working train incidents.    R 

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Randall C. Resch

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4 hours ago, rreschran said:

HI Silverhawk ... thanks for your idea, but I think shorting the tracks has huge liability and associated dangers. Two-years ago I contacted California's Operation Lifesaver regarding tow truck response on railroad right-of-ways. I was to told to NEVER cross-jump the tracks with a steel bar or jumper cables as it has potential to short-out the rail switching device. Doing so could possibly cause a derailment of a different train where the short occurs. (Imagine that bit of information leaking out to a few teenagers with vandalism in mind). My law enforcement experience and interaction with rail right-of-ways suggest using road flares as an EMERGENCY RED SIGNAL to visually notify the train's engineer that a right now emergency is on the tracks with hope to try and stop an approaching train. The problem with flares ... they have to be situated at least a mile in both directions. I suggest contact your local fire department to learned what their response protocol is by state while continuing to employ a call to 911 when working train incidents.    R 

Excellent advice. Always follow local protocol and notify the emergency dispatch center at 911, as well as the crossing owner at the number provided on the nearby signage. The first call should be to the track owner, then 911. Generally by FRA regulations they have a duty to immediately begin attempts to notify all dispatched trains. Keep in mind that nothing is absolute, and some classes of railroads are permitted to use an answering machine -so these calls may not result in immediate action!

 

I have had the pleasure of working directly with a Class I and a local short line railroad in the past. Being from a railroading town near where the modern US railroads traces it's origins to, Honesdale, we have a lot of railroad interaction. Shorting the track is never advisable as it can cause extensive damage up or down the line and will disrupt the positive train controls that are in place. The best possible action is to call the phone number that is posted at the crossing, this connects you directly with the owner of the crossing and they can quickly notify the appropriate dispatch to halt traffic. Further, a series of red flares placed at least a mile up and down track will signal a problem ahead, as does a blue flag. It is a FRA requirement to place a blue stop flag on both sides of a workzone when the tracks are closed and humans are working in the right of way. Blue is the most restrictive signal color in use by American railroads, as it indicates a positive must stop because workers are on the track beyond the signal.

 

I do not advise attempting to beat the train, even when you are fairly positive you know their schedule. Always contact the railroad and wait for their go ahead before beginning any work on or near the railroad right of way. Further, I strongly suggest placing watchmen up and down track by at least one mile with red flares and blue flags so that they can warn any stray trains as well as your crew. Not all trains in the US are required to have instant communication with dispatch, nor am I willing to rely solely on a train control signal that is delivered by a decades old electrical system. Further complicating train control is the fact that many railroads use a mix of train control signals so there is no guarantee that the train engineer will properly understand the emergency signal. Unlike automobile traffic signals, train signage and signals are not uniform throughout the country, not even uniform throughout any one rail line.

 

Last thought, when working on or near rail tracks keep in mind not only how heavy the trains are, but also how wide they are. Be sure to never get any closer than 25 foot from the centerline of the rail. Any work closer than 25' requires railroad notification, and in some instances will require a railroad flagger to be present.

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