(Red Bluff, California – July 21, 2016)
A 40-year-old woman died early Thursday morning at about 3:30 A.M., PDT when her minivan was struck on the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Altube Avenue and Union Pacific Railroad tracks by a southbound Amtrak passenger train just south of Red Bluff, CA in Tehama County.
Tonja Anders of Red Bluff lost her life at a road/rail grade crossing where there are no active warning signals to warn motorists, like her, of approaching trains. According to records kept by the Federal Railroad Administration, one dozen UPRR freight and Amtrak passenger trains cross there on an average day at a maximum allowable speed of 70 mph.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Amtrak, Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver 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%.
Regardless of the absence of flashing lights or crossing gates, Chico, CA television station KHSL, Channel 12 Action News Now reported that “Union Pacific Railroad crews have been on the scene testing the railroad crossing at the intersection, looking to ensure the crossing is working properly.”
Also according to FRA historical files, the crossing had previously been the site of a non-injury collision.
Red Bluff Daily News Reporter Heather Hoelscher reported that “The Amtrak train company and Tehama County Sheriff’s Office are performing investigations into the cause of the collision, said Tehama County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Lt. Yvette Borden.”