Fighting for Life-Saving Change

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April 2009

Teen killed at tracks, couldn't hear train

A Ventura County, CA teen was killed Tuesday while walking on railroad tracks near Emma Wood State Beach. Amanda Shoemaker was not alone on the tracks - she was walking with her boyfriend, and several other teens were behind them. Shoemaker and her boyfriend did not hear the train coming. One of the teens who did ran to them and yelled at them to get off of the tracks. Shoemaker's boyfriend was able to jump off of the tracks in time, while she was not. She died from multiple blunt-force injuries.

Pennsylvania's top court upholds rail crossing decision

Lebanon and North Lebanon Township appealed a decision requiring them to pay for a crossing gate at a problematic crossing which has been the site of several deadly vehicle-train collisions. Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the appeal, to the shock of the two municipalities' officials. Norfolk Southern denied that they had any responsibility to pay for crossing gates (historical amnesia? logical blunder? creative corporate ploy? - likely a mix of all three). The decision might prove significant for Pennsylvania.

Metrolink plans for safety improvements

The tragic Metrolink crash in Chatsworth prompted several officials to wake up to the serious and real safety issues present in the railroad industry. While most railroad companies have yet to lift a finger, safety changes and legislation are in the making. Given a history of false promises and repeated dodging of the issues on the part of railroad companies, promises of safety improvements are only to be taken seriously if steps are taken that are realistic and concrete yet extreme enough to actually help bring about change.

Responsibilities at crossings?

A dangerous crossing in Brewton, AL has prompted a lot of confusion about just whose responsibility it is to implement adequate safety devices at a crossing. A study in 2006 concluded that safety devices at the crossing could prove crucial to saving lives. Three years later, just two weeks ago, a deadly collision between a log truck and a CSX train caused thousands of dollars in damage. Now the town is left wondering why no one bothered to build the safety devices after 3 years.

Fatal Easter railroad crash

A 17-year-old student from Peetz, Colorado lost her life at a railroad crossing on Easter Sunday while trying to cross railroad tracks. Angela Goranson stopped short of the crossing to wait for an incoming eastbound UP train to pass. Seeing that the train had past and knowing of no signs of danger, she began crossing, only to be hit by an oncoming westbound UP train. Had there been active, functioning warning signs, this tragedy would not have taken place.

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Rural Wisconsin crossings getting active warning devices?

Citizens of Dale, Wisconsin may be seeing new active warning devices at four railroad crossings. The area is under investigation to see if it merits the funding. Funding would come from a mix of state and federal money. One interesting thing to note is that these crossings haven't been the objects of complaint - neither accidents nor other serious problems have been happening at these crossings.

Toxic spill in California

A potentially dangerous spill south of LA occurred when two rail cars carrying hazardous materials derailed into a local waterway. Officials claim that the leak has been contained, and no injuries have been reported. A total of five cars from BNSF derailed in the rail yard 20 miles south of downtown LA. It is a relief that the spill was contained, though the potential for disaster in the accident was very high. That no injuries are known of is a miracle. Hopefully BNSF takes the cue and makes some attempts at fixing safety problems at the setting - but don't count on it.

Oregon study reveals rail safety needs

Columbia County, Oregon decided to thoroughly investigate the railroads and rail crossings and came up with a huge list of needed improvements. While any time railroad safety needs are being addressed is a good time, it is sad that the railroad companies themselves, who are making profits off of using these lands, are not spending any of their money on these improvements. They leave it up to the public.

Railroad worker sues BNSF over cumulative injuries

A long-time railroad worker with BNSF is filing suit against them for a whole host of issues he claims he has developed from his time with them - from neck and spine problems to psychological trauma. While we explicitly do not represent or advocate for railroad employees in order to maintain the integrity of our firm, it is nevertheless worth noting (and quite sadly, not surprising) how consistently bad railroads treat not only the public, but in many cases their workers as well. The list of problems this man is suffering from is pretty tragic.

Louisiana man begs for no crossing

Pineville, Louisiana residents are in a fuss about a plan to remove an overpass and replace it with a crossing in order to save money. This man claims that a railroad crossing is absolutely a terrible idea, regardless of costs. "A minimal examination of accident statistics would overwhelmingly concur with retaining an overpass regardless of cost." The man also claims that, "We have electronic devices available that would perform whatever task necessary to warn motorists of approaching trains -- whether it is mechanical arms, lights, sirens or a combination thereof.