(Arlington, Texas – October 8, 2011)
Cleanup from a rear-end collision between two Union Pacific freight trains – which stranded over 600 attendees at a charity fund raiser at a facility less than 100 feet from the tracks – stretched into its second week this week. As cleanup continues Arlington, TX public officials are demanding answers and increased safety measures from the railroad whose wreck history in Arlington is long and troubled.
Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon, who represents the west Arlington neighborhoods where the October 1 collision occurred, said that the accident shook nearby homes and startled residents in addition to entrapping the attendees at the Boys and Girls Club of Arlington event for three hours.
“It could have been disastrous”, said Wilemon, who added that “we were extremely fortunate in the fact that no one was hurt and there were no hazardous materials.”
The councilwoman is planning a community meeting to discuss the need for rail safety improvements, but first Arlington city leaders intend to meet with Union Pacific officials regarding their concerns, which include the UP’s practice of parking railroad cars or leaving loudly-idling locomotives near residential areas during weekends.
Union Pacific Spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza claimed that she was unaware of concerns among area residents of train noise or vibrations, but added that “railroad officials can address those issues in the future, if necessary.”
Meanwhile, Federal Railroad Administration Spokesman Warren Flatau promised his agency’s investigation will be extensive, and a final report is probably several weeks away.