By Mrs Melissa K Buckley (Leonard Wood)January 26, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Trains on Fort Leonard Wood are moving again after a nearly two-year hiatus. The railroad has only been lightly used due to bridge replacements down the 18-mile section of the Fort Leonard Wood spur.
"Fort Leonard Wood operates three engines to support the mobility requirements on the installation. The tempo is expected to increase in 2012," said Terry Collins, Directorate of Public Works civil engineering tech.
The trains are used to move heavy freight: for example, tanks.
"Anything on a M1 tank chassis or M60 chassis. If it weighs more than 60 tons, then it requires a special method of transportation. Rail is the logical way to move it," said Herb Haitt, Motor Transport officer. "It's been used in the past to bring in ammunition and Soldiers, as well."
The Army-owned rail spur starts in Newburg, Mo., and is about 18 miles. Hiatt said on post the trains run down the supply area toward the Directorate of Public Works.
"The crossings I am mainly concerned about are off post. There have been incidents of people not paying attention to railroad crossings and signals during recent testing, and some folks appear to think the Army Rail Line is abandoned and that's far from the truth," Hiatt said.
Although there have not been any accidents, Collins agreed. He said the Misty Mountain crossing, located on Thunder Road in St. Robert, presents concerns.
It is a blind curve for train crews approaching the crossing from the installation, which according to Collins, have an inability to stop 150 tons in a short distance.
"In an attempt to ensure safety for the residents of Misty Mountain and the train crews, the stop signs of the past were replaced by lighted signals," Collins said. "A solar-operated set of lighted signals are in operation."
John Cobleigh, garrison safety manager, has a few simple rules to apply, now that the post's railway is operating again.
"Only proceed through a railway crossing if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. Call 911 or your local emergency number for assistance," Cobleigh said. "Always expect a train. Trains do not follow set schedules."
Hiatt said the main thing he wants people to remember is to look and listen at crossings.
"We do sound very loud horns. It's not worth your life to try to beat the train. It's hard to judge how fast a train is moving because of their size," Hiatt said. "We are concerned for people's safety."