A train derailment in Indiana caused the Defiance Street Norfolk Southern crossing to be blocked for more than an hour late Friday morning, Dec. 8.
“A Norfolk Southern train derailed in Rockfield, Ind., last Thursday (Dec. 7). That caused traffic to back up on the main line around the Fort Wayne, Ind., area,” Jonathan Glass, NS manager of public relations, said in an email message to this newspaper.
“The congestion continued into Friday, leading NS to hold some southbound traffic to allow the spacing of trains to return to normal and ensure safe and efficient operations.
“The train in Archbold Friday morning was one of the trains that got held,” he said.
“In general, in non-emergency train stops, NS instructs its train crews to cut a train at a crossing if it is going to be held there for more than 10 or 15 minutes.
“Depending on the situation, it might not be possible to avoid blocking each and every crossing. The goal is to ensure that motorists, especially emergency vehicles, have reasonable access to a crossing.
“In certain circumstances, such as a train mechanical malfunction, it might not be possible to safely cut the train until NS mechanical employees arrive on the scene to make repairs or until backup locomotive power is brought to the scene. That could result in crossings being blocked for longer periods of time,” Glass said.
Norfolk Southern “typically does not stop trains in Archbold,” but Glass said there are reasons a train might be stopped in the village.
Those reasons include:
•In response to activity occurring elsewhere across the system, such as the derailment in Indiana.
•To re-crew a train if an engineer and conductor operating the train have reached their maximum hours of service under Federal Railroad Administration rules.
•If a locomotive or rail car experiences a mechanical issue.
•If the Norfolk Southern Elkhart switchyard gets backed up, and time is needed to space out train traffic. The Elkhart yard is one of the main NS yards. The Elkhart yard is a regular stop for westbound trains passing through Archbold, Glass said.
•An NS train serving local customers (i.e., Sauder Woodworking, MTI Metalcasting/ American Colloid) might temporarily block a crossing.
There is a siding through Archbold that runs on the north side of the two main tracks, from a switch a few hundred feet west of Co. Rd. 21 to a second switch behind the ConAgra facility.
This siding, Glass said, “is used to hold trains for various reasons.
“This siding passes through grade crossings in Archbold as well, so trains using that siding might block a crossing.”
The Chicago Line
“The main line through Archbold is NS’s Chicago line, one of the railroad’s busiest lines, averaging about 100 trains a day. Traffic on the line has increased recently,” Glass said.
“We do our best to limit the amount of time any crossing is blocked, because our business and our customers depend on NS to keep our trains moving.
“When our trains experience a situation that forces them to stop, we work to correct or resolve the situation as quickly as possible to resume safe movement of trains.”