State Government

Dangerous trespassing on railroad tracks

The historic New Haven railroad depot is scheduled to be moved.

New seamless welds don’t provide ‘clickety-clack’ warning sound

by Lou Varricchio

Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) and Operation Lifesaver of Vermont (OLVT) officials are reporting that trespassing on or near railroad tracks in Vermont has increased since the suspension of Amtrak services in March 2020.

With the Amtrak trains now back in Vermont in preparation for the resumption of full service starting Monday, July 19, Vermonters are reminded that it is both dangerous and illegal to trespass on railroad property.

According to Toni Hamburg-Clithero, Amtrak program manager for AOT and OLVT coordinator, the problem seems primarily focused along tracks near South Royalton, Waterbury, and Essex.

After qualifying runs in June, Amtrak engineers expressed concern regarding several “close call” incidents.

“Cars crossing tracks, walking on tracks — it’s very concerning. People near the rails have gotten used to reduced train traffic, but now things are returning to normal,” Hamburg-Clithero said.

She noted that with new seamless welding, railroad tracks don’t provide the comforting “clickety-clack” sound of old that once alerted the public to a passing train.

“These Amtrak trains travel at speeds up to 79 miles per hour,” said Hamburg-Clithero. “They extend three feet beyond the track and move almost silently. Weighing up to 200 tons, they appear to be traveling at much slower speeds than they actually are and cannot stop in time to avoid persons or vehicles on or near the tracks.” She added that it takes about one mile for a train to come to a stop.

Regarding the expanded Ethan Allen Express train route, to run between Middlebury and Burlington, Hamburgh-Clithero said, pun intended, that all was “on track.” She also expressed pleasure that there is now a resolution to saving the historic, antebellum-era New Haven Depot.

“The depot now has a three-acre site in New Haven where it will be moved,” she said. “This is a happy ending for everyone involved.”

Republished from the June 23 Sun Community News

Categories: State Government

1 reply »

  1. I grew up near the tracks and it used to be great fun to hop freight trains. Then one day I tripped and fell azz over band box and ended up under the cars next to the rail. I am very fortunate that I was not severely injured or killed. I was completely out of control as I fell. Just imagine if the lower step of a car had caught onto me and dragged me along down the track or I had landed any part of my body on the track. That was the last time I ever did that! I have a great deal of respect for those heavy rattlers.

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