Odessa-Midland experiencing more accidents between cars and trains

Recordings of the CBS7 News at 6 broadcast.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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MIDLAND-ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -Train and car collisions have been on the rise since the beginning of the year in the Permian Basin. With three in just three months, with the most recent one being this week.

Trains colliding with cars have started to become a bigger issue in the area.

These collisions can be fatal and affect families, communities near tracks and train conductors.

The Union Pacific Railroad says many drivers get confident and think they can beat the train, or don’t get their timing right and get stuck on the tracks.

Trains can go between 45 to 65 MPH and need more time to brake than a car does.

“The average 12-million-pound train traveling only at 55 miles an hour, can take a mile or more to be stopped after the train crew hits the emergency brakes. And that’s actually 18 football fields, back-to-back to back.” said Senior Supervisor of Public Safety, Union Pacific Railroad, Buck Russel.

The Department of Public Safety and the Union Pacific say the best way to avoid a collision is to be aware and have patience when driving over train tracks.

They also agree that the amount of car and train collisions in the area have risen as of lately.

“It is, in the Permian Basin with the increase with the drilling activity. The oil and gas activity is growing so also the train business is growing in the area,” said Russel.

Sergeant Steven Blanco with Texas DPS, says these collisions could also affect the community.

Similar to what happened in East Palestine, Ohio.

One strong impact can tip over these trains that carry toxic chemicals.

“The trains throughout the United States, do carry hazardous material. Those types of hazardous materials do come through the Midland-Odessa area. And a train derailment caused by a motorist avoiding the tracks, can be very, very detrimental to both Midland-Odessa communities.” said Blanco.

Union Pacific invites DPS to trainings that show them the point-of-view of a conductor inside the train, and shows the issues that can happen when conducting a train.

DPS and Union Pacific work together when these crashes occur. Last night there were no injuries reported and the collision is still under investigation.