A Scary Situation

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A Scary Situation

Postby 2nd trick op » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:45 pm

For the past three years I've lived in Topton, PA, a closely-knit community of about 4000 people, not far from the college-centered and better-known community of Kutztown, and situated on Norfolk Southern's Reading Line -- the principal NS route into Metro New York and witness to the passage of about 30 freights a day -- a bit more on Fridays and Saturdays.

The town's largest single social event is a Halloween/Jack Frost Parade, which apparently draws a lot of semi-official support from the Shriners. On the previous two occasions I've witnessed, the railroad suspended operation about an hour before the parade began, and resumed them as soon as the crowd dispersed.

But so far tonight, the paradfe has been interrupted by the passage of two westbound freights, one of them a low-priority "bare table" intermodal. Both proceeded though the two grade crossings (which are gated) at no more than "restricted speed" (described in the rulebooks as sufficient to stop for any obstruction) but the crew of the second began accelerating immediately after the head end cleared the last crossing.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but given the increasing diversity of our society, the growing detachment of a smaller percentage of the population who understand rail operation from an increasingly-feminized and -sensitized populace and the media who serve them, and the growing obsession with litigation, I believe NS is really playing with fire here tonight, and it will be interesting to see if the lapse is noted in any of the local media.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby Desertdweller » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:50 am

Don't feel a false sense of safety from the Restricted Speed Rule.

The Restricted Speed Rule does not protect people or objects (vehicles) that move onto the track in the path of an approaching train.

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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:11 pm

Not only that, there may have been a Special Instruction issued requiring Restricted Speed only until the head end of the train has passed; this is fairly common. I don't know what can be done about a pedestrian who walks into the side of a moving train after the head end has passed. Apart from that, is it known whether the Shriners or the town officially requested a window this year? Apparently they didn't in Texas (was it Midland?). The NS dispatcher might have been alerted by the crew of the first train and issued the instruction on his own initiative. (The OP's characterization of the "detachment" of the general population is certainly true and getting truer, but if the railroad isn't informed in advance of somebody's plans for a parade there isn't much they can do to provide a window even if the operational needs permit it.) Incidentally, the presence of bare tables doesn't necessarily indicate a low priority. Bare tables (and empty cars) are going somewhere where they're needed.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby mmi16 » Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:08 pm

It behooves event organizers to notify the railroad of their event and their requirements for protection several weeks in advance of the event. I can't speak to NS policy. My carrier bends over backward to protect community activities taking place in near proximity to our lines - when we have advance notification and can plan for the event.

From the OP's description, it sounds as if this years event organizers dropped the ball when it came to notifying NS of their event - a practice that prior year organizers performed.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby jogden » Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:40 pm

Restricted speed only applies to the head end of a train, as the idea behind restricted speed is that the engineer is able to stop the train short of something he sees obstructing the tracks. Once he sees the track is clear, and is outside the restricted speed area, there is no reason to continue operating at restricted speed.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby Thunder » Wed May 07, 2014 12:13 pm

In Tinely Park on St Patricks day weekend, they have a parade that runs across our line.We have our police force and the local PD out there to help with the crowds. We get a " Make noise for the parade and be mindful of the crossing at oak park avenue" messages. But seeings we are stopping at the station already we never get a restricted speed message.

The crowds would cheer when we pulled in blowing the horn, our cops not so much lol.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby philipmartin » Wed May 07, 2014 6:15 pm

If it's a Shriner thing, maybe these people knew, or were, railroad management. I'm thinking of the days when you had to be a Mason to be in management on my railroad, the Penny.
There is a King Frost parade in nearby Hamburg, PA too, but the days when the Pennsy went through that town are long gone.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby 2nd trick op » Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:39 pm

I no longer live in Topton, but this year's parade, which is usually scheduled a couple of weeks before Halloween, apparently went off without incident.

But Vandalia, Ill, was not so fortunate:

tltoday.com/news/local/illinois/mother-children-killed-in-vandalia-ill-train-crash-near-halloween/article_3b2d97b3-341e-52db-9f20-96aa75aa7c26.html

It ought to be noted that Halloween now sees more accidents and drunkenness than New Year's Eve, and the presence of both children and young parents, many not familiar with the workings of an industrialized society and the conditions it imposes, and possibly predisposed to lawsuit, makes this a time at which railroaders have to practice the ultimate amount of vigilance.
Last edited by 2nd trick op on Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:58 pm

no part of restricted speed requires you to stop short of automobiles, or pedestrians. as mentioned above, if the temporary restriction was a HER, then as soon as the loco clears the last part of the restriction, it's track speed again. nothing scary about trains moving through town. the scary part is people stupid enough to challenge those trains. on occasion, the gene pool needs some chlorine, or even a new filter. :-D
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby mmi16 » Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:56 pm

2nd trick op wrote:I no longer live in Topton, but this year's parade, which is usually scheduled a couple of weeks before Halloween, apparently went off without incident.

But Vandalia, Ill, was not so fortunate:

tltoday.com/news/local/illinois/mother-children-killed-in-vandalia-ill-train-crash-near-halloween/article_3b2d97b3-341e-52db-9f20-96aa75aa7c26.html

It ought to be noted that Halloween now sees more accidents and drunkenness than New Year's Eve, and the presence of both children and young parents, many not familiar with the workings of an industrialized society and the conditions it imposes, and possibly predisposed to lawsuit, makes this a time at which railroaders have to practice the ultimate amount of vigilance.

Stopping on a railroad crossing - ANY railroad crossing - will shorten one's life. If you can't clear the crossing account traffic ahead - be an adult and stop before you get on the crossing until the way beyond the crossing can accommodate your vehicle.
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Re: A Scary Situation

Postby 2nd trick op » Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:39 am

Stopping on a railroad crossing - ANY railroad crossing - will shorten one's life. If you can't clear the crossing account traffic ahead - be an adult and stop before you get on the crossing until the way beyond the crossing can accommodate your vehicle.


Agreed, absolutely -- but as many have noted, the increasingly feminized and sensitized America of the present day just isn't as familiar with the potential for serious accidents. About ten years ago, (in suburban Chicago, IIRC) a school bus driver put him/herself in such a position, with fatal results.

City-data. com, which I frequently visit, had a substantial thread on this summer's film-related accident in Georgia, and a reading of it should establish the point that much of the public can't distinguish a lightly used, slow-speed "streak of rust", from a major rail artery .. and hasn't much interest in learning the difference.

I never had children, but several of my close fiends do, and I can attest that the "helicopter parents" of the present day seek a level of security that simply is not attainable -- and the "culture of lawsuit" is everywhere. Operation Lifesaver has been a notable success, but I believe a redoubling of efforts by both the rail and public safety constituencies to identify special situation, or occasion like those cited previously, would be worth the effort.
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