(Muncie, Indiana – December 18, 2012)
Although CSX railroad still plans to double the speeds of its trains traveling through Muncie, IN to 60 mph from the current 30 mph the 20 average daily trains now travel through the city, it has set back the original January 1 date for the doubling of train speeds to February 1.
City officials, including Mayor Dennis Tyler, had been blindsided by CSX officials, who say they had discussed a proposed speed increase with a previous Muncie administration back in 2010, but the current mayor, elected in 2011 and taking office early this year, learned of the railroad’s intent last month when the local newspaper received a news release from CSX and contacted Mayor Tyler for comment.
Muncie has a speed ordinance for trains, limiting rail traffic through the city to 40 mph. Tracks of both CSX and Norfolk Southern traverse Muncie, and had never had any problems with the 40 mph city-set cap on speed – until now, that is. Newspaper editorials in The Muncie Star-Press, penned by two prominent, local emergency medical services physicians, who called the proposed train speed increase “an impending disaster”, citing public safety concerns, as had Mayor Tyler and City Attorney John Quick in a letter to CSX officials in Jacksonville, FL. But CSX has claimed “federal exemption” from any local .or state speed regulations.
CSX Manager of Community Affairs and Safety Jason Holder told news media that a meeting has been set up for Tuesday with city officials in which he planned to “explain the reasons for the speed increase. A lot of thought goes into it.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Tyler said that “Every accident is a traumatic issue,” and his plan for the railroad companies would be a program that would “protect our citizens and allow them (the trains) to get through the city in a safe manner.”