Thursday, October 27, 2011

Today's Near Misses

I went out to shoot the Canadian today at noon. I wasn't entirely sure where I wanted to get it, but as I was driving I heard that CN 852 had a near miss at Waverley Street here in Winnipeg. That decided it for me. I saw a train was stopped on the north track as I drove along Sterling Lyon Boulevard but as I approached Waverley Street I saw it had started moving. I parked by Cora's as usual and by then the train had cleared the crossing. VIA 1 was just around the corner at Fort Rouge by that point, headed toward me. The signal maintainer was a little bit east of Waverley Street, watching the train to ensure there was no damage.

I saw the Canadian in the distance. As they approached, the crossing lights came on and the gates started coming down... and a pickup truck ran the crossing. I'm guessing the truck had been stopped and saw a gap to move into on the north side of the tracks, so the driver decided to go, probably not seeing the lights. I was watching and they started moving into the crossing after the lights came on. They ended up crossing the tracks while the gates were coming down.
Truck in railway crossing

Hello, Floform Countertops!

Fortunately for them there is no gate blocking their exit. They cleared the crossing, and VIA had slowed down anyway so there was no imminent danger... this time.

Here's the intersection in question. Click on the map to go to Google Maps.

The red dot is where the truck was in the photo above. It looks like there is plenty of space between the tracks and Taylor Avenue to the north, except that it's only a few hundred feet.

Oh yes, here's the Canadian in the fog. They have started the short winter trains, alas.
VIA 6411 and the Canadian

The fog cleared up and BNSF 2756, Operation Lifesaver caboose BN 12580 and 31 cars rolled by shortly afterward.
BNSF 2756 in Winnipeg

The story of the CN 852 incident came out later. Apparently a northbound bus was in traffic, stopped on the crossing due to cars between it and the intersection of Grant and Waverley. The crew of 852 likely put the train into emergency, and fortunately the light turned green and the bus was able to clear the intersection before 852 hit the bus. The lights and crossing arms were verified to be operating by the crew of CN 852. The Winnipeg Free Press published an article about it.

This is a dangerous intersection, given that Waverley Street is pretty busy and the track is the CN Rivers subdivision, two tracks that see well over 50 trains a day. I know people have been calling for an underpass like what was done at route 90 just a little ways west, but of course that costs millions of dollars, all from the city or province. I have no doubt that it will eventually get done.

In the mean time, groups like Operation Lifesaver are doing their best to educate the public about safety around trains. Obviously more education is needed!

EDIT: Added the link to the WFP article.

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