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Local News

May 22, 2014

Train shows riders track to railroad safety

CHICKASHA — A Union Pacific passenger train from the 1950s took approximately 90 people from the Rock Island Train Depot to Minco yesterday to encourage safety around train tracks.

UP Public Safety Manager Stephen Lazzari said the most common hazard from trains to the public is people walking or crossing on tracks in non-designated crossing areas or misjudging the speed of an oncoming train.

The number of train accidents decreased 11.9 percent from 2010 to 2013, but the number of incidents of people trespassing on railroad property increased 2.26 percent, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

"Tracks are private property," Lazzari said. "Crossings are like intersections in neighborhoods, except trains can't stop, so drivers and pedestrians need to yield to trains."

He said UP works to make safer railroad crossings, and gives presentations about railroad safety to the communities they serve and to oil companies, who use the company to transport things like sand for fracking purposes.

UP Northern Region Public Safety Manager Kevin Dawson said because the weight ratio between a train and regular car is approximately 6,000 to one, trains can't stop quickly.

The railroad crossings in Chickasha don't have flashing lights and gates, and the federal Department of Transportation provides funding, but which crossings have flashing lights and gates is determined by state departments of transportations.

Grady County Emergency Management Clerk Amanda Wilkerson said she learned about the importance of yielding to trains and not crossing tracks in areas that aren't designated as railroad crossings.

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