Dozens of dangerous rail crossings in US to be eliminated

With the rail industry relying on longer and longer trains to cut costs, the Biden administration is handing out $570 million in grants to help eliminate many railroad crossings in 32 states.

The grants announced yesterday will contribute to building bridges or underpasses at the sites of more than three dozen crossings that delay traffic and sometimes keep first responders from where help is desperately needed.

In some places, trains routinely stretching more than 2 miles (3.2 km) long can block crossings for hours, cutting off access to parts of towns and forcing pedestrians to attempt the dangerous act of climbing through trains that could start moving without warning.

"We see countless stories of people unable to get to work on time, goods being blocked from getting where they need to be and first responders being delayed by these trains that can be slowed or stopped, even seeing images of children having to crawl between or under freight trains in order to get to school," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

In one case Buttigieg mentioned, a Texas mom called 911 because her 3-month-old baby was in distress, but an idle train kept the ambulance from getting there quickly and the baby died at the hospital two days later.

In addition to problems associated with blocked crossings, roughly 2,000 collisions are reported at railroad crossings every year. Nearly 250 deaths were recorded last year in those car-train crashes.

In recent years, the major freight railroads have overhauled their operations to rely on fewer, longer trains so they can use fewer crews and locomotives as part of efforts to cut costs.

The railroads insist those changes haven't made their trains riskier, but regulators and Congress...

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