Program stresses railroad safety

Courtesy photo

James Johnson, engineer, and Billy Gonzales, conductor, from Union Pacific Railroad gave law enforcement officers and media a ride on their train Tuesday during a safety program on rail crossings.

Tuesday morning law enforcement officers from the New Mexico Motor Transportation Police, New Mexico State Police, Quay County Sheriff's Office, Logan Police Department and Union Pacific Police Department participated in the Union Pacific Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety program.

Senior Special Agent II Leo Marquez with the railroad said the safety program was to enlighten officers of some of the dangers the railroad has to be aware of in approaching any crossings.

Operation Lifesaver's mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way. Marquez said that most people do not realize trains can't stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks and the average train overhangs the track by at least three feet.

Courtesy photo

A Union Pacific train traveling across the Canadian River bridge from Tucumcari to Logan on Tuesday morning during a rail crossing safety program.

"This program is all about safety for not only the train personnel but for the law enforcement to learn."

James Johnson, engineer, said he has been an engineer for about 15 years now and unless you have actually been on a train you don't realize the kind of power they have.

"The trains travel from 60 to 70 miles per hour and you don't feel like you are going that fast sitting on the train," said Johnson.

Marquez said safety is a top priority for Union Pacific employees and for the community through various outreach channels such as community events, media outreach, law enforcement partnerships, employee resource groups and Operation Lifesaver. He said the UP CARES public safety initiative brings together communities in a collaborative and caring effort to promote railroad grade crossing and pedestrian safety.

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