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Family escapes vehicle before train impact

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

A family trying to cross a railroad crossing in their friend's borrowed SUV narrowly escaped a great tragedy. The crossing is outfitted with a gate, but the gate was up and not functioning properly when they began crossing. The gate came down as they were on top of the tracks, blocking them in. They were faced with a decision: try to run, or try to back up and break the gate?

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Amtrak receives 1.3 billion for infrastructure

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

As part of the Recovery Act, Amtrak is receiving 1.3 billion in grant funding. This has the potential to turn into good news, though there are no guarantees with railroad companies. Vice President Biden said that "For too long, we haven't made the investments we needed to make Amtrak as safe, as reliable, as secure as it can be." If Amtrak uses money for safety improvements, we will all be grateful. Either way, this is a fresh reminder that railroads are here to stay in the American economy, into the 21st century.

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A lack of rail safety coming into federal spotlight

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

Continued examination of last year's deadly crash in Chatsworth (which killed 25 and injured 135) has alarmed officials to the lack of safety regulations and enforcement of the existing regulations for railroads. While cell phone usage was and is a big problem, officials are realizing that the problem runs a lot deeper. Hopefully the effort will be ongoing and won't stop short of some valuable and greatly needed safety legislation.

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Railroads don’t want to pay for safety program

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

Statewide railroads say they aren't opposed to a safety program that could provide more workers to inspect Louisiana rail tracks and crossings... So long as they don't have to pay a dime for it. It is a tragedy that rail companies continue in their resistance to safety in an effort to hold on to their dollars. However, it is a consistent trend. Railroads have created an implicit policy: if it costs us money, it's not our responsibility. Claiming that safety improvements are desirable and then refusing to lift a finger demonstrates hypocrisy.

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Champaign man killed in car crash

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

Another tragic tale of a good life lost due to inadequate safety precautions on the part of the railroads. A Champaign man was killed when his car knicked by a train. He was crossing the tracks marked with "crossbuck" signs €“ signs with the words "railroad" and "crossing" assembled to make an X configuration. But, sadly (though not surprisingly) the crossing does not have a crossing arm, warning lights or signals.

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Railroad told witness to lie

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

MEMPHIS - A witness, who testified in a jury trial involving a 2003 train accident that left one man permanently disabled, admitted to perjuring himself. He admits that attorneys for Illinois Central Railroad Company paid for his hotel room during the trial and instructed him to lie to the judge about it. The witness also changed his testimony after the judge explained to him the consequences of perjury. Let us hope that this is not standard procedure for all railroad companies.

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Victims’ families win $24 million

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

Bob Pottroff and Pottroff & Karlin, LLC represented the Chase, Frazier, Rhoades, and Shannon families, who each lost a kid to a train accident in Anoka, MN in 2003. After four and a half years and a six week trial, the jury found Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad at fault because the crossing arms did not come down as the victims' car approached the crossing. Among other things, Pottroff argued that BNSF hid evidence from investigators; the jury agreed.

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Arkansas woman killed in train wreck

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

Yet another fatality has occurred in Arkansas because of an unsafe railroad crossing. An 81 year old woman was killed when she was crossing the railroad tracks in her car on her way to pick up her son.

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An ideal world

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

Authorities in Arkansas are doing a half-hearted investigation of a railroad crossing fatality that likely happened because the crossing did not have lights or gates. Spokesman for the transportation department, Glen Bolick said "In an ideal world 100 percent of (those intersections) would have active warning." He goes on to state that this crossing and 70 percent of other dangerous railroad crossings will not be equipped with lights or gates. Why?

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Washington girl killed by train

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC | railroad news

A 17 year old girl from Kent, Washington was struck and killed by a train this week. The train crossing had no lights or gates or "crossing control" of any kind. Investigators have simply determined that she was not paying attention to the oncoming train. She may have been distracted by her cell phone. Unfortunately, the one distraction that could have saved her life - lights and gates at the railroad crossing - was not there. This is the latest example of a pedestrian train crossing accident that could have been prevented with simple lights and gates.

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