On May 9, 2017, Union Pacific invited media along to cover a joint enforcement operation with the railroad and Little Rock Police to watch for violations or trespassing at railroad crossings. As you can read in my story for KUAR-FM 89.1, the city’s police department had several officers on motorcycles who would be watching from a distance as a train, made up of only two engines, approached crossings and how drivers responded. The department also had two officers on board the train, radioing information to others.
I also rode in the locomotive and interviewed a spokesman for the railroad as the ride progressed. We only saw one violation that warranted a driver being pulled, though the enforcement operation continued for several more hours after I got off, with the train moving up and down the same stretch of track in the southwest part of Little Rock, which is the only part of town that Union Pacific’s busy main line has grade crossings. Elsewhere in the city overpasses take street traffic above or under the railroad tracks.
To offer the perspective from inside a Union Pacific locomotive, here are 16 images from my ride that morning.
After crossing over Geyer Springs Road, the last grade crossing for the double-track main line the rest of the way north though Little Rock, the train made up of two locomotives stopped and everyone moved to the south-facing engine. We would then retrace our path on the same track, again with officers watching drivers at crossings. The train moved back and forth over this same stretch over several hours as part of the enforcement operation.
Back at the Mabelvale Main Street crossing, I got off the train, while police and the train crew would depart for another round of watch driver behaviors at the crossings. The railroad conducts operations like this almost every other day with local police departments around the country, Morris said.