TRAIN ACCIDENT IS A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR TREASURE COAST

Publish Date: 
Friday, February 6, 2015 - 8:15am

By Donald McArthur  TCPalm

The events of Tuesday evening in New York’s Westchester County clearly demonstrate my objection to All Aboard Florida’s plan for high speed trains along the Treasure Coast.It’s reported that the train involved in the accident was traveling at 58 mph, two miles per hour under the area speed limit. That crossing is at grade with flashing lights and gates and has good sight distance, yet the accident happened. Westchester County has only about five or six at-grade crossings, and most of those are in areas where the trains operate at reduced speeds and crossing vehicle traffic is light.

The Treasure Coast has many more at-grade crossings and many do not have safety gates. This, to me, creates an unacceptable risk. All Aboard Florida is planning to move its proposed passenger trains at 100+ mph along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. At that speed, the death toll in the New York accident, with a train loaded with over four hundred passengers, would have far exceed six people.

Westchester has many locations where the railroad line crosses major highways, but these crossings are above or below the roadways and have no impact on traffic. On the Treasure Coast, there are many more highway crossings which are much more heavily traveled and they are “at grade.” I believe this presents a much more serious safety issue than faced in Westchester County.

My dad commuted from Westchester to New York City daily for many years via this same Metro-North rail line. In all of those years, the rail line — despite being packed morning and evening with commuters — lost money and still today operates with government subsidies.

I’m sure others have pointed out here before that passenger rail lines throughout the world operate in the red. I find it mind boggling that All Aboard Florida is of the belief that their line will operate in the black.

I suspect they have another reason for this increase in rail capacity, and it’s not the movement of people.

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