BNSF testing longer trains which could leave drivers waiting longer

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - If you feel like trains are longer these days, you’re not wrong. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced rail companies are now increasing train lengths to try and save money. It’s in the test phase now.

Once the train whistle blows, the commute derails for drivers in north Wichita.

“Sometimes, it can be anywhere from 10 minutes to. It could reach up to 30-40 minutes. Everybody literally has to find an alternative route just to get to where they have to go,” said Abe Velazquez, a Wichita driver.

The long wait times at crossings are expected to become longer as BNSF tests longer trains.

“It’s pretty normal, especially around this time when everyone is trying to get everywhere right before lunch, or around 3 p.m. when everyone is getting off work and picking up their kids,” Velazquez said.

BSNF is running longer trains to try and increase productivity. The rail company says the average train is now somewhere around 8,000 feet, that’s about a mile and a half.

Some residents like Darryl Diaz worry about the wait time, up to 15 minutes he says, could mean for first responders.

“We have about 4 fire stations located right in this area also. Their situation could be really bad if they were stopped by the trains and had to take detours. We also have St. Francis Hospital right down the block. Emergency ambulances also have to get detoured,” said Diaz.

Although the delays could cause problems, there are currently no laws restricting how long a train can be. During the test, the FRA said it wants to hear from anyone who has had to wait on a train, including drivers and first responders. You can leave your feedback on the Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter.

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