First responders learn dangers Indiana Railroad workers face daily

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — On a train ride from Indianapolis to Bloomington, a group of firefighters and police officers learned the dangers Indiana Railroad workers face every day.

They traveled some of the company’s more than 250 miles of track. It’s a partnership meant to keep everyone safe.

Far too often, the company said their engineers see people dart across the tracks or trespass. Train tracks are private property. This is what they wanted first responders to see.

With a camera in the cabin of the locomotive, they got to see safety from a different perspective.

“It’s a completely different view than in a car. You see all of the crossings. You see everything that is coming up,” said Jeff Deckard, town marshal for Morgantown.

Deckard got to stand in the cabin with the engineer during the ride down to Bloomington. Thankfully, there were no close calls on Wednesday.

“We are the investigating agency, and so it is important to know what the train’s perspective is and what they can and can not do,” he said.

In 2014, a camera on an Indiana Railroad train caught two women in Monroe County narrowly escape death. They were walking on the tracks when they faced the train. Since they were on a bridge, the women decided to lie down to go under the train. They missed serious injury by inches.

“It is a safety issue. Trains are quieter now than they ever have been, and in order to keep the public safe, we need people to understand you can not be on or around our railroad tracks,” said Kristin Bevil, VP and general counsel for Indiana Railroad.

Indiana Railroad was working with Operation Lifesaver to get this message across. According to the safety organization, there were 150 collisions in the state last year, and 17 people died.

Engineers say it takes about a mile to get these trains to stop. That is not good for anyone who decides to trespass or avoid the warning signs at a crossing.

“It is common sense, but yet you feel that a lot of times people are not looking or not listening,” said Jill Lees, chief of police at IU Bloomington.

One of the company’s tracks goes through campus. Lees said her team wants to make sure all students are aware of the railroad crossing laws.

Operation Lifesaver said you could face a $1,000 fine for trespassing. The penalty for crossing the tracks is a ticket and points off your license.

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