Railroad officials whose trains travel on several hundred miles of track across Iowa are urging hunters to resist the temptation to hunt on railroad property. Mark Vaughn, assistant general manager for the Iowa Northern Railroad, says walking on or near the tracks is illegal and it’s dangerous because it can take a mile or more for a train to stop.
“We urge everyone to only cross the tracks at approved public crossings,” Vaughn says. “If you have to get to your favorite hunting spot or fishing hole, we also caution everyone on the dangers of walking across railroad trestles and bridges. Those areas are particularly dangerous because there is no place to go when a train approaches.”
Vaughn say the company’s trains often carry unusual and oversized freight, like wind turbine components and tractors from the Deere Assembly plant in Waterloo. He says those items could be dangerous if someone is walking nearby. “Locomotives and railcars typically overhang the track by at least three feet on either side and the various cargos we carry can extend over even further, in addition to loose straps and tie-downs or cables that could extend farther over than those limits as well,” according to Vaughn.
Besides facing the dangers, Vaughn says those who trespass on railroad property could be arrested and fined. Union Pacific railroad crews in Iowa have been busy in recent weeks touching up “No Trespassing” signs along the tracks. The railroad has also launched a project called U.P. CARES which stands for Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety.