Railroad Regulation

I take the train to downtown Chicago every day.  

It used to be when the train was arriving in the station, the red lights would flash, the crossing gate would go down and people would cue up to get on the train.   The engineer sitting in his (or her) lofty position could see up and down the tracks for miles and so they would wave across the occasional straggler who might be running late.  The train bell would then begin to clang and the train would slowly pull out of the station.  Part of this workday odyssey has changed. . . . .

Today, the occasional stragglers are not only not waved across but if they have the temerity to do so, the engineer lays angrily on the air horn, the conductor assails the straggler kicking him or her off the train, there are occasionally police waiting to ticket the offender and everyone on the train is treated to a minute-long chastisement about violating the law.   Which we take in sullen silence.  I am continually offended by this harassment and lack of common sense.     

According to RITA statistics, in 2009 there were 458 fatalities at railroad crossings.  This includes vehicular accidents and suicides.   Bottom line – it is very hard to be a statistic on the train tracks unless you want to be.   I for one feel that we have too much regulation rather than too little and I would sure like to see a return to the days when if I was running late, and caught on the wrong side of the tracks, I would look imploringly up at the engineer and be given the nod.  

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