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SoCal tests out monster train, good or bad?

January 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Talk of a monster train is turning a lot of heads in southern California. It's more than three times as long as its counterparts, which is raising a lot of concerns about safety and jobs. But the train's owner tells Eyewitness News that there's no reason to worry.It's something all drivers have had to do. You see the flashing lights, and hear the booming horn and it's time to stop and wait.

"And it's a pain in the butt," said Riverside driver Tom Durocher. "It don't matter if it's this time of the day or in the evening time or when traffic starts. This is ridiculous, it every day.

But while most trains are about a mile-long or less, check the video time-lapse out. The video shot on Saturday is of a nearly three and a half mile-long train. Now, why would Union Pacific try something like this? First off, it cuts down on labor costs.

"You need two crew members per train, so if you have two or three trains you have six, four to six crew members, but if you have a long train you only have two crew members, so it cuts down on labor costs," said Mitch Alderman, San Bernardino Associated Governments.

But Alderman, who is San Bernardino County's director of Transit and Rail, says there are potential problems too. What if the train has to slow down? Or what if it breaks down? Just think of the gridlock at rail crossings.

"The congestion is the biggest issue," said Alderman. "If you could move these trains through grade crossings and not block them a long time then I think that would be probably a benefit."

For now, folks at Union Pacific say they have no plans on operating so-called "monster trains" on a regular basis. This was just a test. But as with all tests, if there are good results who knows what could happen next.