(Ponchatoula, Louisiana – November 4, 2015)
On Tuesday afternoon, Amtrak’s Chicago-bound “City of New Orleans” train with 83 passengers on board struck a semi-trailer truck at the dangerous and unguarded Canadian National railroad crossing of what is known as the Marine Power Road just south of the Tangipahoa Parish city of Ponchatoula at about 3:00 P.M., CST.
The collision, which was the fourth to occur at the private crossing serving the watercraft sales and service Marine Power Performance facility, was first reported to have caused injuries to some, although the locomotive engineer was the only one taken for medical treatment. There have been injuries, but no fatalities, suffered in the four collisions that have now occurred there.
A daily average of a dozen Canadian National freight and Amtrak passenger trains are said by the Federal Railroad Administration to operate over the road/rail intersection at a top allowable speed of 79 mph, yet the crossing does not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident would not have happened. Both CN 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%.