Rainier, MN: Trains blocking level crossings is a growing issue

11 May

One very small town is fast coming to a stand as freight trains crossing the border between the USA and Canada stop and block the Main Street and also other roads – one of which has no alternative route to wider civilisation for far longer than the permitted maximum of 10 minutes. Another factor in the blocking of level crossings is that Rainier is a train crew change point.

Police do issue citations against Canadian National, owners and operators of the railway in question. However extended stoppages have more to do with Customs and Border Protection policies and procedures, than Canadian National’s arrangements for handling rail traffic through Rainier.

Of particular concern locally is the blocking of Main Street and the detour needed when trains straddle the street for extended periods. There is a project estimated to have a cost of USD 0.5 million to create a shorter diversion route than the two-mile diversion presently available. However this does not address the other concern that there is no alternative route out of residential Vera Lynn Road, home to fifty families. Providing grade separated access has been estimated at USD 10 million, for which there is at present no funding available.

A general concern is the impact of blocked level crossings on the emergency services and how the extended journey times impact on those for which the ambulance and or fire service has been called.

Also of concern is the escalating number of train horn soundings, associated with what are now 22 trains every day, running around the clock.

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