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July 16, 2014

Man vs. train: Safety tour rumbles through Logansport

Railroad officials hoping to save lives

It’s big. No, it’s massive.

It makes loud, unexpected noises.

It’s intimidating, to say the least. Yet many don’t seem to find it as such. In fact, many disregard it entirely. So much so that they often pass in front of it with little or no thought.

What is it? It’s 6,000 tons of solid built steel. It’s a train.

This apathy toward trains has claimed more lives than railroad officials care to think about. And while trains continue to be a staple of the modern transportation of goods, the number of lives lost is going in the wrong direction.

In 2013, 250 died and 943 people were injured in highway-rail crossing incidents. That’s up 8 percent over 2012 numbers. Here in Indiana, we aren’t immune. Quite the opposite, in fact. Indiana ranks fourth highest in the nation for deaths at crossings. There were 15 in 2013.

If you think that’s a lot of deaths and injuries, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. The real numbers come into play when talking about trespassing incidents.

In the U.S. in 2013, 476 people were killed when trespassing on railroad property. Basically, that means they were on the tracks and shouldn’t have been. Also in 2013, there were 432 injuries due to trespassing. That’s a 43 percent increase over 2012.

These statistics were shared with those aboard Norfolk Southern’s Great Midwest Whistle-Stop Train last week. During its week-long trek from Michigan to Missouri, the train came through Logansport on its way from Peru to Lafayette. Watch video of the view from the train's caboose and take a close-up look at the train in another video.

In conjunction with Operation Lifesaver, the 487-mile trip aimed to raise awareness about being safe and alert around railroad tracks and grade crossings.

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