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Rail News: Communication and Signal

Escort service: Arkansas town police convoy follows trains to foil crossing collisions


The Osceola, Ark., Police Department has developed its own solution to recurring grade-crossing collisions — escorting trains as they move through town.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe line in downtown Osceola includes several crossings about a block apart, on which there have been several train-vehicle collisions during the past few years.

Because each of the streets crossed by BNSF's tracks intersect a major road and trains are under a 20 mph speed restriction, police officials determined patrol cars could keep pace alongside trains for several blocks.

Now, police cars escort trains through downtown, and officers who observe a driver violating crossing laws issue a citation or warning to the motorist. The officers' presence often deters drivers from trying to beat a train through a crossing, according to a BNSF statement.

"We have several officers who are interested in doing this," says Osceola Police Department Major David Gladden. "They attended a grade-crossing collision investigation class and came up with this idea on their own."