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Security on the train tracks

By Sandra Ríos

Todos por San Miguel” is a group founded in 2008 by neighbors in Los Frailes, La Cañada, El Mirador and Malanquín who are worried about security and environmental pollution generated by noisy trains passing through the three train crossings in San Miguel: La Cieneguita, Los Frailes and near Presa de la Cantera, transited by residents in the rural community of Don Diego.

According to Rodolfo Carmona, member of the group, the train traffic at the crossings has intensified from 10 to 15 per day, generating several safety problems. Kansas City Southern de Mexico manages most of the Mexican railway system serving northeastern and central Mexico (from Lázaro Cardenas to Laredo), including San Miguel de Allende. He said that recently the federal government has given some support for intensifying the transport of goods by train for local trade, needs of national industry and as a route to the United States. Thus the rail traffic intensity will be greater. At the La Cieneguita railroad crossing, there is not enough visibility due to a dangerous curve. In Los Frailes, traffic has increased because of the Atabal school, the treatment plant and water tanker trucks circulating between there and the new residential development Los Huizaches. To access these places, vehicles must cross the train tracks.

“Some trains sound their whistles before crossing and the sound is very loud; others do not do it and it is dangerous. When they do it during the night, they awaken people. Sometimes there are between five and six trains during the night,” says Louis Abrahamson, president of the group. At the third crossing of Presa de la Cantera, people from the community have to cross train tracks to get to work.

The group is requesting to Kansas City Southern to install protective devices at crossings, such as electronic gates with automatic warning lights and bells. This would reduce the risk of accidents and noise by 97 percent, considering that the trains would not have to sound their whistles at night. Also, the group asks for establishment of a maximum speed limit for trains crossing populated areas. Insecurity and noise pollution would be reduced with these proposals.

“We want to create conscience about this problem before it becomes a more serious problem. It affects those who live here. Tourism might also be affected somehow. If the citizens and government of San Miguel would join together, the railroad company would not ignore us,” said Abrahamson.

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