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Lehigh wrote:
"Seems to me that if a train goes 90 MPH at a crossing, there ought to be crossing gates, lights and bells. Even if it's a little used or private road."

Impossible.
There are just TOO MANY lightly-used and unprotected crossings to do this.

The cost of putting in even one "protected" crossing is very high, probably higher now with the PTC stuff that's involved.

Does that mean that every "farmer's crossing" in the middle of nowhere (which may be actually "used" by a vehicle only one or two times a week) can justify such expenditures?

The truck driver bears the blame for this, but he paid the price.
While I understand the sentiment and fully understand a cost-benefit analysis, I bet the costs from this accident would pay for the protection. How much rolling stock was ruined, or at least damaged needing repair in this incident? Was there track damage? How much will Amtrak pay for the passengers inconveniences, including the medical bills and such? How much will they pay for the lives lost? I agree the truck driver was at fault, but his insurance is probably at the federal minimum of $500,000 which is not going to cover much. And that is if his insurance rolls over and pays their max liability. I bet the passengers will still so the Railroad and a jury trail will go their way.

And I am doing just a cold hard factual cost benefit analysis. I did not include the regulators who may step in and say "if it saves one life" and their whole philosophy. I don't agree with them, but they are out there to be considered.
 

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On a different note… My father engineered local commuter trains here in Cape Town for 16 years. Luckily he never had a grade crossing acciden, nor a high speed derailment. He did however kill 37 pedestrians over this period. Total disregard for respecting railway property, “jay walking” jumping the tracks but the worst were the suicidal people watching you all the way till you run them over. You cannot stop 700 metric tons easily. Made my dad a bit harder than the normal dad. They had councelling available but you were teased if you used them.

Although the loss of 3 lives in this case is terrible I am surprised and happy it was only 3. RIP

I am saving up (quite futille when you collect model trains) to travel across the great nation of yours via Amtrak. Was planning to do so in October 2020 but then this stupid cold virus got in the way. Also life happened and my savings got eaten by it…:( Ah well, maybe I can do so in the near future. Or before I hit 60… now 51…
 

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According to all the media reports, the locals in the area are all aware that this is a dangerous crossing. It's on a fairly sharp rise, with high vegetation (crops?) Obscuring the view of the tracks. One guy that has to cross it on a regular basis has been trying to get them to put in crossing lights for years.
 

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According to all the media reports, the locals in the area are all aware that this is a dangerous crossing. It's on a fairly sharp rise, with high vegetation (crops?) Obscuring the view of the tracks. One guy that has to cross it on a regular basis has been trying to get them to put in crossing lights for years.
If that's true, then it makes the people who have refused it somewhat culpable.
 

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I have been on an Amtrak train that hit a car. Fortunately, there were no injuries. It was before 7:00 AM deep in South Carolina and we were about three hours late. The lady got to the crossing and the gates were down. She had not seen a train on her way to work and assumed crossing gate failure. She went around the gates and we hit her at 70 MPH. Took the trunk of her car off and spun her around a couple of times. By the time we got stopped she had turned around and drove the car home. Her back bumper was attached to the engine snow plow. She was lucky!
I have volunteered with Operation Lifesaver for a dozen years teaching people to be safe around trains. The stats are sad that three people are hit by trains every day in the US. And the train is always blamed by the media. But train tracks are private property. Highways cross at the permission of the railroad. Every crossing has a cross buck sign that means drivers have to yield to trains whether there are crossing lights/gates/bells or other devices or if a train blows its horn/whistle or not. Every crossing has a blue sign, with a phone number and crossing ID, to call the railroad and report problems or get a train stopped.
I have also traveled Amtrak on the Marceline Sub where the recent wreck happened. Hard to stop a 90 MPH train. Residents should know that as the trains have been there longer than anyone now living can remember.
See Tracks, Think Train!
 

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Obviously not the case here but in metro areas many of these accidents involve double track lines. The gates come down, the driver allows the train to pass but the gates don't go back up. The driver goes around the gate and gets hit by a second train in the opposite direction.
 

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And now the blame game begins
 

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Obviously not the case here but in metro areas many of these accidents involve double track lines. The gates come down, the driver allows the train to pass but the gates don't go back up. The driver goes around the gate and gets hit by a second train in the opposite direction.
That’s why everyone should put their kindergarten training to use as adults….”always look both ways before crossing”….
 

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Obviously not the case here but in metro areas many of these accidents involve double track lines. The gates come down, the driver allows the train to pass but the gates don't go back up. The driver goes around the gate and gets hit by a second train in the opposite direction.
At a double tracked commuter station near me (with a nearby street crossing the tracks), in addition to gates, lights and bells, there is an automated announcement. Something like “A train is coming. Don’t cross the tracks”. When a second train is coming shortly after the first, the announcement is something like “A second train is coming. Don’t cross the tracks”.
 

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Was this really a "public" crossing or a "private" crossing. When dealing with the railroads, they take a very clear difference between the two. Railroad sometimes will close "private" crossings to assert their ownership rights. From what i read, the crossing went to a farmer's bean field. Unless there are some deed restrictions in the railroad right of way instrument; it sounds like a private crossing.

Projects that I worked on involving crossings (public or private) or any other railroad property specifically spelled out insurance requirements and railroad providing flagmen. (also other requirements).

Was this a Corps of Engineers levee project? I can't imagine them missing such a vital step in their contract.

It's too bad that lives were lost and blame passed from trucker to contractor to Amtrak to railroad to state. and so on. Somebody dropped the ball.
 
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