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ALBERT LEA, MN — Every three hours someone or something has a collision with a train in the U.S. according to Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit rail safety group.
It is a statistic some in our area do not like to hear. Those with Union Pacific are raising awareness on how to bring those numbers down.
Some lucky passengers were able to get on a train in Albert Lea to learn a little more about how to stay safe around the locomotives.
Some are on the trip because of their love of trains.
“Never gets old, we’ve enjoyed it. I’ve made oh, probably seven, eight trips to California and back and several private trips to different locations all over the United States,” said Gordon Miller of Blue Earth.
Miller’s passion for trains really shows, he can tell you almost everything about what kind of train car he is riding in.
“They were run in the 50s and into the 60s before Amtrak took over and they had the dome cars like this one,” Miller said.
While he has a lot of experience with trains, some other passengers are getting their first taste.
“Man this is going to be fun,” said Amelia Lewis of Blue Earth.
“I thought it’d be a little louder,” said Seth Wagner of Albert Lea.
But they are also on the train to learn. Union Pacific organizes a yearly event to educate people about railroad crossings and pedestrian safety.
That’s because nearly 25 percent of all collisions occur when a vehicle runs into a train and a lot of those are when a train is moving less than 30 miles per hour.
“That to always look before you cross a railroad when you’re in a car,” Lewis said.
“I knew most of the stuff but things I didn’t know was the rock thing, that if you put a rock on the rail it will probably shoot out at you so don’t put things on the rail and that trains don’t really make a lot of sound,” Wagner said.
Whether it is their first time on board or their 15th time, it is a day to learn and have a little fun.
“I’ll do it as long as I can here and enjoy it,” Miller said.
Those at Union Pacific said a lot of these incidents occur because of a lack of patience. They said if you see a train coming or the crossing arms go down, wait.
After leaving Albert Lea, the Union Pacific train went south to Mason City to conduct a lesson in north Iowa.
These are just a few of the more than ten stops they will be making in multiple states.