It’s the stuff of nightmares for parents: elementary-, middle- and high-school-aged children crawling under and over idling trains in order to get to school on the other side.
ProPublica and Investigate TV journalists spent months reporting on railroad safety and the children who are risking life and limb to go to school in Hammond, Indiana.
One of those investigators said there are myriad reasons for blocked crossings that have dogged American communities for decades.
“In a lot of big cities, they have money and resources to build bridges and stuff like that,” journalist Dan Schwartz said. “In a lot of rural parts of the country, they don’t have those resources.”
But he said the problem of long trains blocking pedestrian and vehicular traffic has gotten worse recently.
“It’s exacerbated by this new management philosophy that all these class-one railroads of the country’s biggest railroads are adhering to called ‘precision scheduled railroading,’” said Schwartz.
“The philosophy is just do more with less to drive up profits,” he added. Schwartz said that cutting overhead, employees and running longer trains are big factors.
In a statement, the Norfolk Southern Railroad said in response to the ProPublica investigation: “We are actively working to identify an area where those trains can stage further down our line and have less impact on the community.”
But the railroad company hasn’t committed to any timeframe to make changes, according to Schwartz.
Schwartz talked to “Chicago Tonight” about his ProPublica investigations of the railroad industry, including “The True Dangers of Long Trains” in another article.