Like a speeding locomotive
- Written by Kathy Parks
Like a speeding locomotive Trains increase speed from Humble to Diboll Union Pacific is increasing the speed of their freight trains traveling in an area from Humble to Diboll. The increase will be from six to ll miles per hour. The change results from modifications to the track or grade in these areas. Federal Railroad Administration regulations require a gradual change in speed at the rate of five miles per hour, per week, until the desired speed is achieved. The clock started ticking March 30. “If we increased the speed by 30 mph, drivers may notice the difference,” said Joe Arbona, spokesman for Union Pacific. “But it is not likely that drivers will notice this small change.” Arbona explained that the increase was necessary. He said that more that half of the auto/train accidents occur at areas that have warning arms that come down and the light and bells warnings. “Often, drivers who suspect they will have to wait a long time for a train to pass will try to beat the train,” said Arbona. “Impatience causes a lot of accidents. When projects such as grade changes improve an intersection, we can increase the speed so that motorists won't have to wait as long for a train to pass.” It may seem an odd thing that increasing a train's speed is actually a safety measure, but according to Arbona, that is the way it often works. “It has been a good year for the railroad,” said Arbona. “Business is up, yet we have had one of the safest years yet.” He attributed the increase in rail traffic to the rising cost of gasoline. He said that the number of companies choosing to ship by rail rather than truck is up, probably as a cost-saving measure. “Getting in and out of communities quickly is a good thing. When a train passes through a community, it must, by law, blow its horn and there is an inconvenience in waiting for a slow train,” said Arbona. But he said that the increase in speed will cut down on both. Arbona also said that statistics show that trains are 33 times more fuel efficient than trucking and that they are responsible for only one-third of the emissions produced by trucks. Info Box: Union Pacific links 23 states by delivering agricultural, automotive, chemicals, energy and industrial products. It is the only rail system that connects to Canada and all six major gateways to Mexico.