By ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 19, 2007 LOS CHAVEZ, N.M. — The Rail Runner commuter train collided with a vehicle Wednesday, killing one person, state police said.The collision occurred just after 6 p.m. at a private crossing midway between Los Lunas and Belen. It was about a quarter of a mile from where the train struck a sport utility vehicle last month, killing two people.Augusta Meyers, a spokeswoman for Mid-Region Council of Governments, which operates the Rail Runner, said the crossing did not have any lights or guards.The Rail Runner was traveling south when it crossed paths with the eastbound red Subaru wagon, said State Police Sgt. Andrew Tingwall.The remains of the car could be seen smashed at the front of the train as authorities secured the scene and escorted the train passengers onto buses headed for the Rail Runner station in Belen. State police did not allow any of the passengers to be picked up at the crash scene.Meyers said there were no injuries among the 84 people aboard the train.
(Courtesy the Santa Fe New Mexican)
Finally, the state of New Mexico agrees with me that we need some serious population control mechanisms. I say we need wolves to eat people, and maybe an H-bomb here or there (i.e. New Jersey) to really finish off those last remaining ones. But apparently Governor Bill Richardson disagrees with me on the “how to” part of the equation. His $400 million RailRunner project has now killed three people, which may well be more than the number of people killed by wolves for all I know.
(Currently, I am trying to refocus my mind after going batshit insane reading this article trying to figure out how many confirmed wolf killings there have been. Excuse me.)
All right, so the train’s killed three people. Big deal, it happens all the time. If Amtrak trains aren’t exploding, then the commuter rail system in LA is, or a Santa Fe in Wisconsin is dropping toxic waste on an orphanage or elementary school.
Problem is, this is the third death in two months. And it happened in two accidents, both of which occurred at private crossings, at least one of which has no flagmen, bells, or crossing gates (I can’t find any information on the other; your help here would be appreciated).
Now, whenever I heard on Eyewitness News 4 that there were absolutely no safety devices placed at the crossing where (at least this one) tragedy occurred, my first reaction was, of course, “Then install crossing gates! People are dying here!”
Naturally, of course, I was wrong. Apparently the state of New Mexico isn’t going to fix the problem for two reasons:
- The state doesn’t have to do anything to fix the problem, since it’s a private crossing.
- In the same link: The problem was, apparently, that “the horns weren’t loud enough.”
Because, of course, 129 decibels just isn’t enough. Nor is 95. No, it’s definitely the horn’s fault, not the fact that the state won’t contribute any money to erecting a crossing.
And would it seriously hurt them? Even if it doesn’t have to, the state could easily pay the extra cost. Look again at that figure. $400 million for the Railrunner. How much would it seriously cost to install a damn crossing gate at one of the few places on the train where it’s necessary? Crossing gates in, say Chicago or Florida require about $300,000 initial cost to install, and maybe $1000 a year to maintain. Or about a tenth of a percent of the initial cost of buying six trains with cars and special roadrunner graphics. Maybe next time they should spend the paint job funds on making sure that the train doesn’t kill people. Or maybe they could just keep the cool paint job and instead spend a little bit more on this crossing gate. It’s the state’s train, so the state should pay to keep it safe. If it can’t pay, it shouldn’t have the train. It’s that simple.
And I think it should keep the train. Of all of the mass-transit projects employed in New Mexico, the Railrunner is the one that sucks the least. Lots of people can use it to travel the incredibly long distance between Santa Fe and Albuquerque easily, with less traffic accidents. There is definitely an improvement in commute times, unlike in many bus systems where bus lines are so far apart that you’d be better off riding in a car. Like Albuquerque’s Rapid Ride program, which connects UNM with the east side of Albuquerque, this can seriously reduce commutes. But they gotta install the gate. If they don’t, I say it’s time for euthanasia. Nobody wants a killer bird-train and I don’t blame them.