Saturday, May 30, 2015

Negative Attitude From An Amtrak Flack

Wallingford is a town filled with at grade railroad crossings: Six in all, from Tolles Road in the south to Pent Highway in the north.

So when one of those crossings gets disabled - either from a malfunctioning or broken equipment - it becomes a public concern. Such was the case around noon on Saturday when a truck hit one of the gates at Pent Highway rail crossing in Wallingford and broke it in half

Wallingford polce were quickly dispatched to the scene because the broken gate set of the flashing red lights and alarm bells that are normally activated as train approaches the crossing. Only in this case, while there were bells and flashing lights, there was no train.

During one 15 minute period, the signal at the Pent Highway rail crossing went off 5 times, which backed up traffic on either side of the crossing.

In the aftermath of the crash of an Amtrak train on May 15th outside of Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured about 200, there is a renewed concern about rail safety in this country.

Although this particular incident caused no injuries or fatalities, it was something that warranted reporting on. A call to Amtrak yielded a quick return call from a surly spokesman based out of the rail agency's Washington, D.C.

I got most of the information I was looking for, but not without having to spar with the spokesman over the description about what had occurred in Wallingford. He took issue when I called it a signal malfunction.and the conversation went south from there.

I don't know what prompted the negative reaction from the Amtrak spokesman. What I do know is that at a time when Amtrak is getting a lot of negative publicity for safety issues, its spokespersons need to remember that the media has a job to do.
Allowing journalists to show that repair crews from Amtrak quickly fixed the problem does not hurt them, it helps them.

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