(Dec. 6, 2012)
The next CSX train through the city of Muncie, IN might be traveling at twice the speed as the last one, and the mayor had no idea it was going to happen until the local newspaper called him for comment after receiving a news release from CSX saying its train speeds would double January 1.
Mayor Dennis Tyler was not a happy man after being contacted by Star-Press Writer Keith Roysdon Monday. Learning of CSX plans to double the current timetable-authorized speed through Muncie from 30 mph to 60 mph, Mayor Tyler responded “We’ve got a 40-mile-an-hour ordinance in the city of Muncie. I intend to have that honored and enforced.”
The Mayor’s reaction to the possibility of trains flying through Muncie at 60 mph effective January 1was that the action represents “an unsafe standard speed the railroad wants to implement.”
The announcement of its intention to have its average 24 trains daily barrel through Muncie at 60 mph said that the move “would address a traditional complaint of Muncie drivers by reducing wait times for motorists at crossings.” CSX added that the faster speeds would “improve the efficiency of rail operations.”
Yet, when contacted by The Star-Press, a CSX company spokesman could neither address specific questions regarding the intended speed increase, nor could questions regarding safety improvements be answered.
CSX’s action seemed oddly similar to the current situation in Midland, TX, where Union Pacific Railroad increased speeds from 30 to 70 mph through the city, but may not have adjusted track signal circuitry to provide sufficient warning time for motorists at crossings along the city corridor. How CSX could adjust the circuitry to accommodate double the speeds now in use in only a month is difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish.
A local businessman familiar with standard railroad operations, Brandon Mundell, owner of Toys Forever Models & Hobbies said of the planned speed increase that “It is hustling. I’m kind of surprised with the amount of grade crossings we have, CSX is doing that.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Tyler said he would have city attorneys contact CSX to make the railroad aware of the local train speed ordinance.