NS freight train nearly hits house on Georgia tracks

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NS avoids hitting modular home stuck on railroad tracks in Georgia.
A Norfolk Southern train stopped within feet of striking a modular home stuck on railroad tracks in Georgia on March 8.
Phil Maton
ATLANTA — Truck drivers in Georgia will now be routed around a troublesome railroad crossing, thanks to a near-collision last week between a Norfolk Southern freight train and a manufactured home stuck on the tracks.

On March 8, a portion of a manufactured home being shipped through Temple, Ga., became stuck on a grade crossing at milepost 675.6 along Norfolk Southern’s busy Atlanta-to-Birmingham, Ala., mainline. Approaching westbound NS freight train 187 was able to stop just short of striking the stranded home, coming just feet from plowing through the structure.

Temple Police Lt. James Hollowood tells Trains that GPS routing is to blame for the incident.

Hollowood says the home was being shipped in two sections using routing orders from the Georgia Department of Transportation. The first section cleared the crossing at Ringer Crossroad with no issues, but it was the second section that became lodged on the crossing due to the weight of the structure being distributed more forward of center. Hollowood says when the train approached at just more than 20 m.p.h., the crew spotted the obstruction on the crossing and made an emergency brake application in order to stop just short of the unconventional collision.

“He was able to stop with about four feet of space left before colliding with the house,” Hollowood says. “We had a crossing collision with a truck last year at that crossing, so we are very well-versed in that type of event. But I can say that in 21 years (of police work), this is the first time with a manufactured home being stuck on the tracks.”

Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta-to-Birmingham line is busy, with an average of about one train per hour passing across the line. Hollowood says the crossing at Ringer Crossroad has been troublesome in the past, particularly last year when a NS freight train struck a tractor-trailer which had also became stuck on the tracks. The driver in that collision was cited for ignoring warning signs about the crossing. Hollowood says that after consulting with NS Police, the driver in the March 8 incident was not cited since the incident resulted from his routing orders from the state.

“DOT is usually pretty strict about routing, so we did not cite the driver this time,” Hollowood says. “I did speak with DOT about the crossing this week, and they added that road to their restricted list, and they also added seven more roads, so we shouldn’t have this issue again due to DOT routing. Driver error could still occur, so this is bound to happen again at some point ... .”

Hollowood said NS 187 was stopped for about two hours due to the incident but was able to proceed westbound after the crew completed an inspection of their train. Norfolk Southern did not respond to numerous requests for comment from Trains.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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