Member Expert: See Tracks, Think Train
March 2020 was poised to be another month of positive carload growth for railroads across the country. The collective railroad industry was able to maintain solid rail traffic weeks into the pandemic, but April saw an over 20% decrease of total carloads (including intermodal) and numbers lower than the 2008 downturn. Throughout it all though American railroads, and our professional employees, have continued to move the goods needed for Americans with surprising efficiency.
Prior to the pandemic, Louisville & Indiana railroad would regularly see 12+ CSX trains a day as well as 5+ Louisville & Indiana Railroad trains daily along our 106.5-mile route between Louisville and Indianapolis. With this increase in traffic, we strengthened our partnership with Operation Lifesaver (www.oli.org) to promote ideas like “Any Time is Train Time”, “See Tracks, Think Train”, and “Prevent Track Tragedies”. Throughout this partnership we have worked to advance rail safety with Operation Lifesaver through efforts such as community outreach at local events, sponsoring local sporting teams and venues, educating local law enforcement and emergency responders, trackside and billboard signage, public service announcements, and with new technology such as geotargeting and cross-platform media outreach to the general public.
As Louisville & Indiana Railroad weathered our low of zero CSX trains and only two Louisville & Indiana Railroad trains a day, we continued to watch for opportunities to partner with our public partners, including sponsoring food donations to medical workers along our rail line. This provided an opportunity to keep the idea of rail safety visible in the public's eyes when it could easily have been forgotten. As we move months into the pandemic, we have now seen at least 50% of the traffic return and are eying a greater increase over the coming months.
It is very easy to lose focus and make the decision not to stop at a grade crossing when we have seen almost non-existent train traffic for months. Indiana has born the unfortunate recognition as one of the top 10 states in the country for Grade Crossing Collisions & Fatalities for many years and once again, preliminary 2019 Federal Railroad Administration statistics rank us as number 4.
Far too often people think they will hear the train coming or be able to get out of the way in time. In America, every 3 hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train. The sad truth is that any risk taken around railroad tracks is one to many. To that I want to remind everyone that Anytime is Train Time and when you See Tracks, Think Train! To request an Operation Lifesaver presentation or more information please go to www.oli.org or contact me directly.
About the Author
Jeremy Kramer has served in increasing roles of responsibility with three railroads in the rail industry since 2002, most recently as Vice President of the Louisville & Indiana Railroad. Jeremy has been recognized in his industry as a safety leader including being awarded the 2018 American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association Safety Person of the Year award. He spends his time volunteering with Operation Lifesaver as well as youth sports and with his church. Contact: 812.406.4583 firstname.lastname@example.org