Union Pacific Railroad are Handing out Traffic Tickets
Two Weeks ago along Wetmore road, Union Pacific railroad in two locomotive units went back and forth down the track looking out for motorist who where running around down gates and sitting on railroad tracks waiting for the light to turn green.
For the most part, people are unaware of what railroad track belongs to whom and what, there are actually trains? Just go outside and go down to the nearest railroad track. Do you see a train? Probably not at all because freight rail doesn't run by a schedule at all, but when the train need to go. Since the formation of Amtrak, the general public has been separated by the trains that bring coal for electrical power, carries the grain we eat and the junk we by at Walmart. We don't even realize the significance of what happens when there's a traffic jam on a railroad track and the reason behind it. A car got hit by a train.
Union Pacific makes billions in profits per year and they intend to keep those billions coming in by reducing cost of delays. They are separated by the general public for the most part except when a train blocks traffic for a few minutes. This negative encounter usually outrages motorist because a train is blocking their path that the state transportation department gave them the right to go down and on average, adding an additional three minutes to their drive. Even a 15 second Amtrak train will infuriate motorist for blocking the road ahead. And guess what hits the idiot that decides that 3 minutes is just too much time?
When a train hits a car, it is found about a mile down the track and then the investigations starts. During that time, traffic backs up down the line. Cars can go around a car accident, but not trains. A train can't jump off the tracks and go around the down train and get back on. So Union Pacific goes out and informs the public on the local news and with a ticket or two.
Now Union Pacific does have a outreach program like it's steam train excursions that tries to connect to the general public. They even carried the Olympic Torch twice, but that don't really cut it if people are stopping on railroad tracks waiting for the light to turn green. Now Union Pacific use to have daily interaction with the public, it was called the passenger rail such as the City of Los Angeles. But now Amtrak takes that role eliminating the actual contact between the railroad and the public.
Taking look at two states, you see a difference between train and vehicle collisions. New Jersey had 387 highway-rail incidents during the last 10 years compared to Texas which had 2,498. Whats the difference other than size? Well its passenger rail. New Jersey has passenger rail mainly commuter rail operations all across the state operated by New Jersey Transit. Texas, well we have long freight trains that pass by with in 3 minutes on average. If the solution to reduce collisions is as simple as having a frequent rail passenger operations, then the occasional ticket issuing event that took place on February 3 or Steam Train excursions, then the railroad should really take this simple fact into account when trying reducing highway-rail collisions.
Now your probably asking yourself, what a minute Mr Day, Texas and New Jersey are completely different states. After all, Texas is way bigger. Yes that is true, so lets look at two counties in Texas. Dallas County which has miles of light rail, and Bexar County which has no light rail. Bexar County, the County that houses San Antonio, TX has had a total of 105 highway-rail incidents compared to Dallas County that has a total of 99. Dallas has had a change of 72.73 % in reduction compared with Bexar County of just 30.77% in reduction. Now what about Houston, after all there light rail is the most accident prone ever. Well Harris County has had a change of 61.9% in reduction over the past 10 years. In 2011, only 21 incidents were reported compared to 53 when the light rail started operations in 2002.
This is over a 10 year period and it shows that providing passenger rail services will reduce railway grade crossing accidents. This is because the public has for once a actual positive connection to the rails compared to a negative one when a freight train blocks traffic. If Union Pacific is really seriously about reducing highway-rail incidents, then they will make an effort and support the building of light rail or commuter rail in metro areas.