Trains will soon be moving faster through some Greene and Sullivan county communities.
Indiana Rail Road has announced that maximum authorized speed for trains traveling on its east-west route through Linton will increase to 40 mph by Nov. 1 following a summer of multi-million track renovations.
Beginning in mid-October, the railroad will begin a period of gradual speed increases, reaching maximum authorized speed by Nov. 1. The change includes trains running in both directions on the east-west line that reaches Linton from Dugger on the west side and Switz City on the east side.
The increased speeds are permanent and will be in effect 24 hours daily, according to Indiana Rail Road spokesman Chris Rund.
"Previously, the tracks on this line were maintained to a 10 mph operating speed. However, (due) to increases in the amount of freight and number of trains moving on the Indiana Rail Road system, the tracks were renovated and upgraded for faster operation as part of a $65 million program of infrastructure investment being undertaken by the railroad over the next five years," Rund said in a prepared news release.
Rund said the amount of warning distance on trains' approaches to public crossings will be adjusted to reflect the increased speeds. Federal law requires automatic warning signals to activate a minimum of 20 seconds before a train occupies a crossing, and train crews are required by law to sound the locomotive horn repeatedly during an approach period of 15 to 20 seconds.
"The increased train speeds will create greater approach distances for these warnings," Rund stated.
The railroad reminds all motorists and pedestrians that trains don't operate on precise or consistent schedules.
"When approaching a crossing, always expect a train any time of day or night, on any track, from any direction. Be alert when approaching crossings and eliminate any noise or distraction that could interfere with the ability to hear or see an approaching train," Rund said. "The motoring public will enjoy the benefit of greatly reduced waits for trains to clear crossings. After the maximum authorized speed takes full effect, trains will clear in only one-fourth the time they previously took."
The new 40 mph track is 14.4 miles in total, extending from just west of Switz City through the communities of Linton, Dugger, and Cass.
Additional infrastructure upgrades continue in the Linton area, including a track realignment that will hasten movement of trains switching from the railroad's east-west line to its north-south line from Linton to Crane. Trains switching between the two routes will be routed automatically by dispatchers in the railroad's Terre Haute operations center and will be able to clear public crossings more quickly as a result.
Rund pointed out that Indiana Rail Road has certified presenters available to offer Operation Lifesaver training to schools, community organizations and public gatherings.
Operation Lifesaver is an international non-profit organization founded in 1972 in the U.S. by a consortium of law enforcement officers, emergency responders and railroaders to provide educational and outreach programs to increase public awareness of rail crossing safety.