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Norfolk Southern Commits To Cutting Trains If Crossings Are Blocked



A train stopped at the Defiance Street Norfolk Southern crossing, Monday night, Feb. 22, blocked traffic for about an hour, from about 8:15-9:10 pm. Norfolk Southern railroad officials have promised to reduce the number of times trains stop and block the railroad crossings, and eliminate the incidents in which trains block the crossings for hours.– photo by David Pugh

A train stopped at the Defiance Street Norfolk Southern crossing, Monday night, Feb. 22, blocked traffic for about an hour, from about 8:15-9:10 pm. Norfolk Southern railroad officials have promised to reduce the number of times trains stop and block the railroad crossings, and eliminate the incidents in which trains block the crossings for hours.– photo by David Pugh

Officials of the Norfolk Southern railroad have developed a plan to reduce crossing blockages, not just for Archbold, but for the region.

That’s what Bob Latta, U.S. repres entative (R-Bowling Green) who represents Archbold, said in a conference call, which included this newspaper, Friday, Feb. 26.

The two crossings in Archbold– North Defiance Street (St. Rt. 66) and Franklin Street– were blocked a total of almost 12 hours by two separate trains on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19-20.

Latta had several telephone conversations with railroad executives last week.

There was also a conference call between Archbold officials, Latta, and NS executives the morning of Friday, Feb. 26.

Another call was held Friday afternoon which included Latta; Brad Grime, Archbold mayor; Donna Dettling, village administrator; and David Pugh, Buckeye news editor.

During that afternoon call, Latta said, “They (NS) have come up with some plans.

Bob Latta

Bob Latta

“One thing– this is coming down from on high– they said that the issue that had arisen over the past weekend (Feb. 20-21) was something more done on a local level. It was not what they were supposed to have done.

“At this time, we have them committed to making sure that even if a short blockage would occur, it is their responsibility to cut the train to let the traffic through.”

Latta said one railroad official, Greg Comstock, NS vice president of network operations, provided officials with his phone number, adding he can be reached 24 hours a day, to report occasions when the crossings are blocked.

The Right Path

Grime said in the conference call, “I think we’ve got good communications opened up with them, and I think we’re really on the right path.”

Latta said the railroad offered to follow up with him and the Archbold officials in two to four weeks.

Grime said, “This just has a little bit different feel about it than other things that we’ve done in the past. I’m pretty confident.

“Bob has made it very clear to them that we aren’t looking for a temporary solution here.

“We have ways of following through with this a little bit more aggressively, and just the fact that we have contact people. I believe Greg Comstock was pretty sincere; he wasn’t holding anything back.”

Grime said Comstock seemed surprised that Toledo area railroad dispatchers were parking trains in Archbold, “and he didn’t know quite exactly what they were doing, and he straightened that out.

“He’s taken the initiative on his own, so that’s encouraging.”

Bulletin

Donna Dettling, village administrator, shared a copy of a Norfolk Southern railroad bulletin she received, which states, “Effective immediately, when staging trains in Archbold, OH in the siding and/or on Main #1 or Main #2 between CP327 and CP329, the following crossings must not be left blocked: Defiance St. (DOT #509525E) and Franklin St. (DOT #509526L).

“The train crews must be instructed to cut these crossings before tying the train down.

“This location will also no longer be used as a set-off or pick-up location.

“Additionally, if normal operations require a long meet at this location, then the crossings must be cut as well. Please be governed accordingly.”

The bulletin went out from Comstock and other NS officials to all Toledo-area terminal dispatchers and relevant operations employees.

Responsibility

In the conference call with this newspaper and Archbold officials on Friday, Latta said all NS officials he had spoken with took responsibility for what had happened, and offered plans for what they were going to do.

He said railroad officials were doing everything they can “so we’re not going to have the blockages in the future.”

“Effective immediately, when staging trains in Archbold, OH in the siding and/or on Main #1 or Main #2 between CP327 and CP329, the following crossings must not be left blocked: Defiance St. (DOT #509525E) and Franklin St. (DOT #509526L).

“The train crews must be instructed to cut these crossings before tying the train down.

“This location will also no longer be used as a set-off or pick-up location.

“Additionally, if normal operations require a long meet at this location, then the crossings must be cut as well. Please be governed accordingly.”

Norfolk Southern bulletin received by Donna Dettling, Archbold Village Administrator