(Carlisle, Iowa – August 21, 2015)
A rail-mounted ballast “train” was making a reverse (back-up) move as it was performing work on Union Pacific railroad track and struck and heavily damaged a large pickup truck pulling a trailer loaded with an ATV vehicle at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of 190th Avenue in Carlisle, IA Friday morning at about 8:45 A.M., sending the male driver and his female passenger to Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, IA.
The truck was struck on the passenger side by the GRE SPS (Self-Powered Work Platform) railroad ballast operation, a device advertised as being able to be operated by a single worker and who was obviously in the cab at the front of the rail-mounted, multiple-platform machine. As previously stated, the crossing was also not equipped with any form of active warning devices, such as flashing lights and gates. It was also without a human flagman on the ground to control vehicular traffic. The police told WHO-TV Des Moines reporters “the person driving the truck didn’t see the train.”
As a police report is yet to be published, the two victims remain unidentified at the present, but the woman passenger, whose side of the vehicle took the brunt of a collision which knocked it into a trackside ditch, was trapped inside the wreckage for a time before freeing herself prior to the arrival of emergency response personnel. The male driver had just pulled off of Iowa Highway 5, which parallels the UPRR tracks through Carlisle.
The accident was the second to be recorded at the UPRR crossing. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident and the prior one would not have happened. Both UPRR 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%.