WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A train collided with a car in West Springfield Saturday night injuring the driver and passenger.
West Springfield and Agawam Fire and Police Departments were sent to a car that was found to have been pushed about 2,000 feet westbound on the tracks from the Front Street Crossing. The car was totaled but both passengers survived and were taken to the hospital with only minor injuries.
22News spoke to Lt. Tony Spear of the West Springfield Fire Department who said Saturday’s scary crash is nothing new to the city’s railroad crossing. According to the Trains in the Valley organization, there have been 10 accidents at the Front Street crossing since 1975 with 8 of them since 2003.
“Sometimes people think they can beat the arm or beat the train and they shoot across and either get clipped or hit directly,” said Lt. Spear.
The cities of Agawam and West Springfield are directly connected by only three roads including the Front Street crossing, connection making this route very popular for drivers. Lt. Spear told 22News that at times some of the nearly 8,000 cars that pass the crossing right can be stopped for over an hour because of the massive freight trains like this.
Local, state, and federal elected officials have attempted to address this problem for years with the freight train company CSX. 22News spoke to Ben Heckscher, co-founder of Trains in the Valley, an advocate organization for improved and expanded passenger and freight rail service in the Pioneer Valley. He explained why he and his organization are in support of an overpass at the Front Street crossing location.
“Front Street would just go up and over the tracks rather than crossing,” said Heckscher. “It would eliminate any safety problem and also eliminate people getting backed up by freight trains that get stopped at the crossing.”
But until the crossing location is resolved, Lt Tony Spear recommends everyone stop once they see the railroad warning signs flashing and to always look both ways before crossing whether the arms are down or not.
For more information about the Front Street railroad crossing including, its history and Trains in the Valley’s potential solutions, click here.