Reporting Blocked Crossings

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Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby usmcdevildog » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:40 am

Who do you contact to report constantly blocked public crossings of standing equipment for an excess amount of time when the RR Police blow you off?
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby doepack » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:17 pm

I'd try local or state law enforcement...
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby CN RTC » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:44 am

If a crossing is blocked, report it to your local law enforcement agency via their non-emergency number or the emergency number, yes it constitutes an emergency. A blocked crossing (train stopped) or malfunctioning crossing gates, (I.e. gates stuck down with no trains in the area) is a safety concern. The local police department will contact the railroad, but most importantly they'll be able to reroute any emergency vehicles in the area around the blocked crossing.
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby slchub » Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:42 am

Most states and cities have laws and/or ordinances that prohibit trains from blocking road crossing for a period time. Here is an except from the State of Utah as an FYI;

Utah Code 41-6a-1204. Trains -- Interference with vehicles limited

A person or government agency may not operate a train in a manner to prevent vehicular use of a roadway for a period of time in excess of five consecutive minutes except:
(1) when necessary to comply with signals affecting the safety of the movement of trains;
(2) when necessary to avoid striking any object or person on the track;
(3) when the train is disabled;
(4) when the train is in motion or while engaged in switching operations;
(5) when there is no vehicular traffic waiting to use the crossing;
(6) when necessary to comply with a governmental safety regulation; or
(7) as determined by a highway authority.

The City of Layton, Utah has been known to provide tickets to the engineers of trains blocking crossings for impeding traffic.
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby jogden » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:05 am

There is a sheriff in a town in eastern Montana who occasionally threatens train crews with citations for blocking a crossing in town. The siding in that town crosses one of the main roads, although there are two other nearby crossings, which are easy to access, and do not get blocked by trains in the siding. We would always stop short of the crossing until we knew our meet was getting close, but sometimes the dispatcher puts a train away for multiple meets, and they may not be as close together as one would like, so the crossing could be blocked for hours.

This particular sheriff would occasionally board engines and threaten to arrest the crew or write them tickets, but to my knowledge, he never followed up with those threats, because no one ever produced ID for him. He would get pretty flustered when he asked for a drivers license and both the Conductor and Engineer would decline that request. A drivers license is not required to operate a train, and no matter how much he threatened or shouted, no one on the train crew was required to carry their drivers license while on duty.

There have been reports of train crews getting tickets, but I am not entirely sure about that. I would think that any citation issued to the individuals on the train would not hold up in court, unless there were some proof that those specific individuals willfully and intentionally blocked a crossing for an extended period. Don't take this the wrong way, I am not saying it has never happened, in fact, it probably has. But I think in many cases, the only thing law enforcement could do would be to write the carrier a citation. Most train crews are simply following the instructions of train dispatchers and have little to no control over how long they sit on a crossing.

There are a lot of cities out there that forget the railroad was there before them, and many that forget they have the railroad to thank for their very existence! The railroad owns the crossing and is not obligated to even allow one to be built in the first place.

Most crossings in the USA have in ID number issued by the department of transportation. Many have a sign on the same post as one of the crossbucks, which includes this ID number and a phone number to call. That phone number usually reaches someone at the dispatch center for the railroad that owns the crossing. That is the number to call for any problem with the crossing, whether it is a malfunction, stalled vehicle, or blocked crossing. If there is an emergency, call that number as well as the local emergency number. One person complaining of a blocked crossing will not likely get much results, but if calls come in to report it blocked consistently, the railroad may do something about it and try harder to avoid blocking that crossing.
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby Thunder » Wed May 07, 2014 12:08 pm

State of Illinois requires a crossing not to be blocked more than 10 minutes. If you are switching or moving however the time does not start until you are stopped.

That being said, over on the old EJ&E you can not block a crossing more than 10 minutes from the time the gates go down to the time the gates go up. Never been threatened with arrest or a ticket. But I have heard cases of that happening.
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby Gadfly » Sun May 11, 2014 9:20 am

Thunder wrote:State of Illinois requires a crossing not to be blocked more than 10 minutes. If you are switching or moving however the time does not start until you are stopped.

That being said, over on the old EJ&E you can not block a crossing more than 10 minutes from the time the gates go down to the time the gates go up. Never been threatened with arrest or a ticket. But I have heard cases of that happening.


I heard of a town that once threatened and harassed a big railroad. The railroad got aggravated at what was clearly a town, or its mayor, who just didn't like railroads. Quietly, they searched for a new right of way about 40 miles south of the town. The railroad was serving a few small industries in the town, but the main industry (textile mill) had long gone. The "disguise" for this was a new industrial park, owned by a railroad subsidiary, in a different town. The RR invited industries to locate there with some choice leasing arrangements, making it look like it was just another addition to its business portfolio. Meantime, the little A-holes in that town continued to threaten, harass, and aggravate the railroad. The little town didn't notice that their remaining businesses seemed to be moving away, AND didn't notice when the railroad filed for abandonment of that segment, citing the now lack of revenue and business. It was granted, and one day a MoW crew was seen at the entrance to the town SPIKING down the switches and erecting a fence over what once been the main line! :-D Ditto for the north end of the town as well, effectively blocking the town from rail access! :-D

"Oh, you can't do that to us," the police chief cried.

"Oh, yes we can; we've already 'done' it", replied the railroad!

And the little town dried up. People moved away, following the industries that moved at the railroad's behest and much cheaper rent! Now there's only an old path that leads to nowhere in particular that USED to feed the former city and provide a lifeline of industry and jobs. The rails thru town were left for a long time as a reminder of what used to be. No crossing gates, no flashing lights. Just the quiet of rusty rails waiting for a train that will never arrive!

Remember, we are in such a hurry and we think our little p*** ant cars are so much more important than a $10 million train and cargo. :(
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby Desertdweller » Sun May 11, 2014 9:40 am

Great story, GF!

Be careful what you wish for!

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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby Gadfly » Sun May 11, 2014 5:33 pm

Desertdweller wrote:Great story, GF!

Be careful what you wish for!

Les


Revenge is sometimes brutal, but sweet for the avenger! :-D :-D :-D
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby Engineer Spike » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:10 pm

Streator, IL liked to issue tickets for blocking crossings. One day I was picking up a train from NS, just after the Conrail split. The company said that they would have an investigation for the next violator. I had air problems, and blocked some crossings. When I told my local chairman, who told the company, they got the legal dept. involved. The argument was federal air brake laws supersede local ordinances. The company lawyer called to go over the case, but I never had to testify.
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Re: Reporting Blocked Crossings

Postby dpeltier » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:23 pm

Many states have laws limiting the amount of time that trains can block crossings. They are all almost certainly unenforceable. There are many cases out there where courts have thrown out these laws as being preempted by federal law, either the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) or the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination a Act (ICCTA). I'm not aware of any states where such a law has actually survived a court challenge.

The latest one to fall was Minnesota:
http://www.wctrib.com/content/benson-ca ... ersections

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