Speed revealed in fatal train crash

An Amtrak train collided with a SUV in Durham Wednesday evening, killing two children.

December 11, 2009 8:59:45 PM PST
Authorities are investigating a train collision that killed two young boys and put their mother in the hospital Wednesday night.The family was stuck on the tracks between the gates when an Amtrak train that couldn't stop in time broadsided their SUV.

The two children inside were not belted in and were thrown from the truck and killed.

Click here to read more about the accident

Speed limits on train tracks are set mile by mile. On the part of the track where the accident occurred, the speed limit is 79 mph.

According to Amtrak, the train that hit the SUV was going 74 mph. But many people who live and work along there say that is much too fast.

Alicia Lipman cuts hair at Fenel's Hair Gallery just down the road from the crossing and says Amtrak trains fly by four times a day.

"There should be a limit if they're coming up to a crossing," she said. "I couldn't even see them if I turned around and looked, you could turn around and see them they'd already be gone."

The speed at which trains can come through is set by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The director of the state's rail division, Patrick Simmons, tells ABC11 Eyewitness News that there are no plans to ask the FRA to lower the speed.

He says slowing the train down wouldn't make a material difference in accidents, partly because of how the gates are timed.

He says regardless of how fast a train is going; the lights and bells start going off 36 seconds before it gets to the crossing and the gates go down 32 seconds before it gets there.

Even if the train was going somewhat slower, he says it would still cause a lot of damage to a vehicle.

One thing the state has done is put up new bigger signs on either side of the track with reflective strips to catch drivers' attention.

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