Train breakdown stops traffic for 90 minutes

By on November 18, 2011

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Elburn residents are used to hearing that train whistle blow and seeing those gates go down as one of the 90 or so trains passing on the Union Pacific line stops traffic. But on Thursday, Nov. 10, the gates were down for nearly 90 minutes, causing long backups and forcing many people to turn around and find another way across the tracks.

Police Chief Steve Smith confirmed that a train engine breakdown caused the delay.

“What are you gonna do? If an engine breaks down, you can’t just move it out of the way,” Smith said.

UP Public Relations representative Mark Davis was unable to access the company’s report, but said a mechanical breakdown was a likely cause of the problem. He said another reason trains get stuck for long periods is when there’s a problem with the air hose, which provides air from the locomotive to all the rail cars of the train. If air empties out of them, as a safety precaution Davis said the brakes apply and aren’t released until the leak is found and the air pump is back up and running.

Smith said this is the second time in the last few months a breakdown caused long delays. He said the last one stopped traffic for nearly six hours.

Union Pacific is not required to notify authorities when there are trains blocking crossings. Three years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that state laws and local ordinances can’t bar trains from stopping at road crossings for extended periods. The justices ruled that such restrictions interfered with federal law, which oversees train regulation.