Monday, November 10, 2008

Rocky Ford Grade Crossing Claims Three

Two teenaged sisters and their grandmother were killed when they drove in front of a BNSF freight train in Otero County here in Colorado on Friday evening. According to the Denver Post article, Trooper Gilbert Mares of the Colorado State Patrol said that Devonna Griffin was driving a blue Dodge Durango north on Otero County Road 20.5 about a quarter mile east of Rocky Ford at 4:49 p.m. when the train struck the vehicle. Driver Devonna Griffin, 17, front-seat passenger Krystal Griffin, 19, and back-seat passenger Joan Griffin, 66, were all killed in the accident.

According to a more detailed account in the Rocky Mountain News,
The SUV was hit on the driver's side, which sent the vehicle spinning counterclockwise. The vehicle went off the east side of the roadway and came to rest on its right side, facing southwest.

The train was a local BNSF freight working out of Denver, crewed by three employees based out of La Junta. None of the crew were physically harmed.

The reason for the driver's failure to yield to the train is still under investigation, although at least one article interviewing the victims families posits a few theories. US Highway 50, the main highway in the area runs parallel to the tracks just north of the grade crossing. It could be possible that the most inexperienced driver of the three victims ignored the crossing because she was approaching the highway, a danger perceived by the young driver as more imminent or more threatening.

Whatever the reason, the tragedy is that three women lost their lives in an accident that could possibly have been prevented by railroad crossing lights and arms. This same grade crossing claimed the lives of two men earlier this year and Otero county officials prioritized the crossing for the improvements. In fact, one report presented that Otero County had taken delivery of such safety devices but had not installed them. The improvements will come next year, too late for the three victims this weekend, and not soon enough for the other residents of Rocky Ford.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

D&SNGRR Ridership Down But Evens Up By Cutting Expenses

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad released that its ridership was down 11% from last season. Pre-emtively, the railroad scaled back operations earlier this year by removing its fourth train from the schedule. The move helped keep their budget on track this year. For more information, view the article from the Durango Herald here.

The D&SNGRR begins its winter schedule later this month on the 26th with runs to Cascade Canyon.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Union Pacific Strikes Preliminary Deal With RTD For FasTracks

Union Pacific and RTD have struck a preliminary deal worth $210 Million for railroad relocation to allow RTDs FasTracks light rail/commuter rail project to proceed after negotiations failed earlier this year. RTD will pay to relocate UP assets to create its planned corridors. The deal specifically mentions the West Corridor, the Gold Line, the North Metro Line and the East Corridor from Union Station out to Pena Boulevard. RTD acquires UPs Boulder Industrial Lead from Denver to Boulder.

The differences were resolved. The projects moved foward. And there was much rejoicing.

Having Galloping Goose For Thanksgiving

The news from Donald Tallman out at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden is that they're having Geese for Thanksgiving. Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose No. 2, Galloping Goose No. 6, and Galloping Goose No. 7 will both be operating on the museum's loop of track on Thanksgiving weekend, with passengers allowed to ride in Goose No. 7. Special event admission applies, which puts the adults at $12 a person.

More details regarding the museum's flock of 3

Note: it was previously listed that only Geese 6 and 7 were operating, but Mr. Tallman says all three will be running.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Train Show in Denver This Weekend

There's a big train show in Denver this weekend. The Great Train Expo returns to the National Western Complex this Saturday and Sunday, November 8th and 9th. Doors open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adults are $7 and kids 12 and under are free. Admission is good for both days.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Amtrak Funds To Explore More Service From Denver

The Amtrak improvement bill (Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2008) signed into law this week by President Bush contains instructions for Amtrak to look for additional service options out of Denver Union Station. This is a tremendous boost for commuter service options, even if it doesn't result in corridor service via Amtrak like Chicago's Illinois Service. It could simply bring back the long-dead Pioneer service from Denver to Seattle, expanding rail service for residents of the northern Rocky Mountain states currently served by only the Empire Builder. If it does, mandated improvements to trackage would serve Amtrak and any other commuter service that starts up over the same route.

More details will emerge in the future, but also in the bill is $18 Million to build an underground rail transit safety test center at the Pueblo DOT railroad facility. The text specifically says,
There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary $18,000,000 for the period encompassing fiscal years 2008 through 2011 to design, develop, and construct the Facility for Underground Rail Station and Tunnel at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado. The facility shall be used to test and evaluate the vulnerabilities of above-ground and underground rail tunnels to prevent accidents and incidents in such tunnels, to mitigate and remediate the consequences of any such accidents or incidents, and to provide a realistic scenario for training emergency responders.
This is a minor boon for Pueblo, especially in light of the financial meltdown currently taking hold on Wall Street.

I'm going to keep searching this legislation to see what else made it, but this is a great help to the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority.
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