(Dayton, Texas – August 30, 2019)
Amtrak’s Sunset Limited train with 70 passengers on board struck and divided in half an 18-wheeler at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Liberty County Road 621 and Union Pacific rails in mid-afternoon Friday near Dayton, TX.
The collision, the third to occur at the UPRR crossing which carries an average of 14 trains daily for four different railroads, sent 17 rail passengers and the truck driver to Dayton Regional Medical Center for treatment of various injuries incurred in the crash. Maximum speed for trains traversing the crossing is 60 mph.
Fortunately, none of the three crashes resulted in fatalities. But Channel 13 News noted that Neighbors told ABC 13 they did not hear the sound of a horn before the accident happened,” and that “There are no arms or lights at the crossing.”
Without the presence of flashing lights and crossing gates at the road/rail intersection, the potential for recurrence is overwhelming. Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Kansas City Southern trains are among the other railroads that use the crossing. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision and the two before it would not have happened. Union Pacific, BNSF, KCS and Operation Lifesaver all know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
The Sunset Limited was on its way from Los Angeles to New Orleans, and was between station stops in Houston and Beaumont.
“It was like a mini-earthquake,” nearby resident Aline Gonzalez told Channel 13 News, ABC in Beaumont, TX. “I never heard the house shake like that.”.
“My heart dropped,” Gisselle Hernandez, who lives next to the tracks, told Channel 13. “I thought the train came off the tracks and was going to hit the house!”