Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More on Bad Behavior Around Railroad Tracks

Sometimes I'm surprised which blog postings seem to strike a chord with readers. Many have commented to me (via email) about the posting below involving people putting coins on tracks. I can assure you that, unfortunately, this is not rare behavior at all.

AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, my employer, provides storm warnings and weather forecasts for Union Pacific Railroad. In 2007, they invited us to ride their steam train from Enid, Oklahoma, to Wichita.

We stopped in Caldwell, Kansas, to allow a freight train to pass on the siding. I saw the freight approaching in the mirror attached to our car.
Our train is at right. The freight is at left with its lights on. 
Suddenly, a man jumped onto the tracks, ahead of the moving freight, to place a coin.

Even worse, the man and a friend crawled under the momentarily stopped freight to try to find the coin! Had the train started moving, which it could have at any moment since the passenger train had cleared the south end of the siding, they likely would have been killed.
I simply don't understand this behavior and it is more common than people seem to imagine.

Please teach your children to stay off tracks!

We'll resume talking about weather tomorrow. 


  1. Excellent post! And some of the most egregious behavior I have seen documented. Good grief! Thanks for your strong messages on this topic.

  2. As a railfan over the years, I have seen people do the dumbest things imagineable around railroad tracks. When I lived in Norman, I was right next to the BNSF mainline, and I was amazed at the number of people who would walk or jog down the middle of the tracks like it was their own personal jogging trail. Often they would have their headphones in, so if a train had approached them from behind, they might not even hear it coming. I also recall one night coming back to my apartment from running errands, and a group of three teenage girls was sitting *in the middle* of the railroad track. Myself and another guy who saw the situation called the police on them (and the girls later tried to argue with us that it was none of our business). I've also witnessed the dimwits who drive around lowered crossing gates more times than I can count, sometimes barely making it across with the train only 10 seconds away from the crossing (and usually the train is doing about 55-60mph). Sadly, there was also a suicide at the crossing I lived next to the morning after OU commencement in 2011. The train had half of Norman blocked for a good 4 hours while first responders, investigators, railroad officials, and cleanup crews tended to the scene.

    As a kid, I often thought about a career in railroading, but today, I do not envy in the least what many of the railroad crews out there must go through and put up with. The general public doesn't tend to think about the train crews and how every 'close call' alone causes them great anxiety - they have no way to swerve and avoid hitting a driver or person fouling the tracks. This is to say nothing of the trauma they must go through when a fatal incident actually occurs - they have to live with the memories of those tragedies for the rest of their lives. Add to this that the train crews in these situations are often then demonized in media coverage of such incidents for "driving the train too fast" and subsequently face lawsuits from the victims' family, as if it were somehow the train crew's fault (and often the railroad company ends up having to pay thousands in court fees and settlements with the victims' family). I wish people would use their heads more and not take such needless risks around railroad tracks, for their own sake and the sake of the railroad crews.

  3. Also, please forgive the typo, I meant 'imaginable'.


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