IOWA - Signal Part Delays Train Horn Installment, Manufacturing Defects Cited as Part of Cause : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: Signal Part Delays Installment of Train Horns


By Richard Lewis Staff Writer

AMES--It sounds like a broken record, but the train horns installation in Ames has been delayed again  until next month at least.

The reason for the delay this time is a prototypical signal used to alert train engineers that the automated horns are working has not been delivered, said Kurt Anderson, director of the automated horn system division at Railroad Controls Limited, the horns manufacturer. Railroad Controls also is waiting on some components for the electronic boards that run the signaling system, said Anderson, speaking by phone while attending a train horn hearing by the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, D.C.

The horns were supposed to be installed at the Duff, Kellogg and Clark avenue crossings on May 1. Once delivered, Ames will be the first U.S. city to have the newer models.

If all we had to do was finish the old [signaling system], that [the horns installation] could have been done right away, Anderson said. But Union Pacific wanted us to change things.

Union Pacific, the railroad, wanted to ensure the horns would pick up slow-moving trains and those that simultaneously pass through a crossing. The company two weeks ago signed off on the orange X-shaped symbol to alert engineers the system is functioning properly, Anderson said. The blinking, white strobe lights no longer will be used with the new horns, he added.

In any event, Ames is prepared. Engineers have bored the holes and put in the poles for the horns, said Scott Logan, city traffic engineer.

I hate to move the date back, Logan said. It makes us look like were not after them [Railroad Controls]. But I think we are.

The horns installation has been delayed since at least November by freezing weather, negotiations among the city, the manufacturer and UP and manufacturing defects. Once delivered, the stationary horns will be tested for about one month, Anderson said.

There is some question whether theyre needed at all. The Federal Railroad Administration considers raised medians at crossings, surveillance equipment and gates, among other devices, as adequate supplemental safety measures, but not the horns. Ames has protested the horns exclusion, arguing that tests and a study by the Iowa Department of Transportation found the instruments to be effective at curbing crossings and to be popular with citizens and train engineers alike.

The new horns, at about $22,000 apiece, will replace older models already at the citys Hazel, North Dakota and Scholl crossings in addition to the downtown area. That will cover all crossings along the east-west line, which carries up to 65 trains daily (that will go up in coming years). The citys north-south spur, which averages about four trains daily, will not get horns.


-- (, May 15, 2000

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