Proposed bill in Iowa House would shorten length of freight trains
DES MOINES, Iowa - (WQAD) - A bill in the Iowa House is looking to shorten the length of freight trains running through the state.
Train worker unions say this will help various public safety concerns.
A 2019 government accountability report found trains are getting longer, some nearing three miles.
That has raised concerns about blocked crossings, and delays for emergency responders.
Last year, the state reported nearly 1,500 blocked crossings. A third of these lasted at least an hour.
Some major rail carriers argue that shortening lengths of trains will just increase their frequency.
Rail workers argue, shorter trains will run faster.
“Union Pacific, I know, they say their average velocity is 19 miles an hour,” said Chris Smith, the state director for SMART-TD. “If you have to wait for three and a half mile long train to go 19 miles an hour in front of you, you’re talking 30, 30 plus minutes of a delay at a crossing. If you have an 8,500-foot train that’s running track speed at 40 to 50 miles an hour, you’re talking a five-minute delay.”
This bill would limit the length of trains to 8,500 feet, or roughly 1.6 miles.
Union members say this change would also help Iowa’s railroad infrastructure overall.
Many towns were designed around the tracks, never imagining how big the town or the trains would grow to be.
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