Just so we’re all tracking together on the much-anticipated Positive Track Control (PTC), sometimes called Train Control, without which development 12 trains per day will not be barreling through Lakewood at 79 mph, don’t count on PTC to prevent vehicle-train accidents at grade crossings.
In other words, should the crossing arms not come down (not anticipated) as a train approaches; or should you think (wrongly) that the crossing arms sure have been down inordinately long and therefore must be stuck in which case you might think (again wrongly) it prudent to manually lift the crossing arms so as to be on your way only to discover the crossing arms were in fact down for a very important reason, FYI: PTC is not a backup plan.
In answer to Jim Hochstein’s question about how PTC works, Travis Baker – who writes a column for the Kitsap Sun entitled “Road Warrior” – checked with a Union Pacific railroad website, and reported back that while PTC “prevents derailments caused by excessive speed”; and, “can prevent train-to-train collisions”; and, warn of – even prevent – “train movements through misaligned track switches and unauthorized train entry into work zones,” PTC – FYI – is not a panacea for drivers AWOL.
Ironically – maybe relatedly – the day of Baker’s column preceded by just 24 hours the 55th anniversary of the grand opening of a grade-separation down the track aways from where the tiny town of Tillicum found itself cutoff by the at-grade railroad crossing arms that were indeed stuck horizontally as reported recently by the Tacoma News Tribune.
Constructed at a cost of just peanuts – certainly compared with the $191-million Point Defiance By-pass project with no grade-separations that would have kept vehicles above or below that of trains – a mere $1,000 was needed to erect a bridge for users who otherwise would continue to be, and not infrequently had been, squashed beneath passing wheels.
Over the years that bridge would be repaired and moved no less than four times and that – coupled with numerous observations of adults teaching the youngsters not only where the bridge was but how to use it – suggests we, like the squirrels, can figure this out.
Just a PSA FYI.