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Train vs. Truck

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  • Member since
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  • From: Central Iowa
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Train vs. Truck
Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 2:07 PM

Train derails east of Fremont after striking tractor-trailer | Local News | fremonttribune.com

This one hits (no pun intended) close to home.  It's my territory and I know the crew.  I worked with the conductor two trips back and deadheaded out with the engineer last trip.  I brought out the wreck train of track panels and ballast.

Everyone walked away from it, including the driver, and that's the important thing.  The impact derailed the engines and 5 cars, from what I heard.  It was an empty hopper train heading west, despite what the linked article says.  The crossing only has crossbucks, no lights.  Again, despite what the article says.

By the time I arrived with the wreck train, they had rerailed the cars and engines.  The rear portion had been pulled back to Kennard, end of the double track, and the engines were just being pulled west to Fremont.  It happened about noon yesterday and I was called for the wreck train, on duty at 4:15pm.  We arrived there about 10:30pm.

By that time, the track had been removed from the crossing, including under the car partially in view in the 1st picture, all the way to the engines.  We had to shove back a mile to Arlington and rearrange the train.  We left the yard with the track panels at the rear.  We asked if the panels shouldn't be first out, but they wanted us to get out of town.  When we arrived, they said they had asked for the panels to be first out.

Once rearranged, they had me pull up so close to the end of track that I couldn't see track ahead of me.  Even standing up and getting as close to the front window as I could.   It was a front row seat to them dragging off panels, using either two large backhoes or two sideboom cats.  After they had a couple panels placed they had me ease ahead.  I chased a tractor mounted backhoe down the track for a couple car lengths at 1 mph or less to better position the panel cars.

They had the last panel put in the gap we could see about the time we died on our hours.  They moved a couple more panels off, so there must have been another spot further down that needed replacement.  The relief crew showed up and we went and tied up in Fremont.

The crossing is on a curve that continues behind the view of the first picture.  Normally, it's a 40mph permanent slow but there's a temporary 25mph between the crossing to a bit beyond where the engines are.  They were 2 or 3 mph under 25 when they hit.  

They are going to build a new bridge over the Elkhorn River, the current one is about a 1/4 mile behind the crossing.  The dump truck that was hit was a sub-contractor hauling dirt for the new roadbed.

Jeff 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 6:29 PM

Glad to hear that everyone is alright.  

We had a nearly identical crossing accident and derailment at Wabamun, Alberta in 2018 (about 30 miles west of Edmonton).  A semi carrying a large crawler excavator was pulling out of our track maintenance compound there and got high centred on the crossing, and was soon struck by an eastbound empty grain train.  

https://globalnews.ca/news/4015150/train-derailment-wabamun-rcmp/

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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  • From: Dallas, TX
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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, September 10, 2021 4:03 AM

Long ago I was a School Bus Driver and tried to get a dangerous RR crossing fixed that was on C&NW's twin cities main in the Lake Country area West of Milwaukee the RR Crossing as at the bottom of a steep hill and was cross bucks only.   Worse the trees and bushes were so heavy you could not see the red lights flashing until it was too late to stop and in winter with the down hill being usually icy the crossing was a Russian Roulette situation for a School Bus.

Wisconsin and most other states have a RR Crossing fix it fund for issues like this so lack of funds is usually never the issue.   Instead it is who is responsible for that road and maintaining it and who is the proper authority to initiate RR crossing improvement.   As to trigger fund release you have to properly apply for the funds to fix the crossing via the proper road authority and usually there is a very small matching fund requirement.   Last I checked for 125K and up decent signaling with gates and overhead flashing lights the match was only $5-10k local.    That was more than 30 years ago though.    The problem I had in Wisconsin was First I was told by the local authority that the reason the crossing was so dangerous was that it was put in by a private developer of the surrounding homes.    Second, who was responsible for the road was currently in dispute and the local authorties wanted to settle the dispute first prior to them initiating any kind of road improvement project which would require far more money than just adding decent crossing signals.     The whold experience for me was very frustrating.

Even more frustrating is those RR Crossing improvement funds in each state remain in surplus and are never drawn down to the extent where they need to be funded again the next year.   In other words, they are not used as much as they should be or what the intent was of them being used.

So I don't know how to fix this but thought I would bring it up from my long ago experience.   Before I started I thought I could just phone someone up on the crossing and get it fixed for less than pennies on the dollar.....fantasyland.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Saturday, September 11, 2021 8:28 PM
 

I echo SD70Dudes sentiment. Not to be funny. Anytime I hear about an incident in this part of the UP system. I always say to myself, I hope Jeff is alright.

 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
  • Member since
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  • From: Central Iowa
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Posted by jeffhergert on Sunday, September 12, 2021 7:49 PM

SD60MAC9500
 

I echo SD70Dudes sentiment. Not to be funny. Anytime I hear about an incident in this part of the UP system. I always say to myself, I hope Jeff is alright.

 
 
 

To make it clear, I wasn't the engineer on the train that struck the dump truck.  I brought out the wreck train (still called that although it doesn't have a crane of any sort) that had the track panels and ballast cars.

Jeff

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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, September 16, 2021 3:06 PM

Jeff,

Looking at google earth photos of the area that look to be circa 2016 is the double tracking recent?

Robert

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  • From: Central Iowa
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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, September 16, 2021 3:48 PM

The second track west of the site to Fremont has been there for quite a while.  (I'm thinking between 10 and 15 years.)  At first it was called a running track and unsignalled.  It was said the ties (and maybe the rails) were used and they weren't going to allow it to be treated as a main track.  Eventually, without renewal of either, they bonded the rails, added signals and it became main track two.

Exactly how long this process has elapsed, I couldn't say.  Time runs together and gets away from me.  I will have to go through my old timetables to get a ball park figure on time.

It's all supposed to be part of double tracking the Blair Sub.  One of the managers at the clean up said they're only building a single track bridge over the Elkhorn River.  I don't know if it's going to be equipped to allow spans for a second track to be added later.  Other spots that were updated with new bridges had a second bridge deck built, ready for when the second track is to be installed.  Something I'll probably be lucky to see before I pull the pin in 10 or 12 years.  

Jeff

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