CHICAGO (CBS) – High-speed trains are on the fast track in Illinois, and state officials are expecting development of these swift new trains will create hundreds of new jobs.
But critics fear that allowing the 110 mph trains on the flat prairie rails of Illinois is just too dangerous, CBS2’s Mike Parker reports.
Two Chinese bullet trains collided Saturday, killing 39 people. Last Thursday, in Oak Forest, two elderly women were killed driving around gates into a speeding Metra train.
Chicago personal injury attorney Tim Cavanagh does not believe Illinois can safely handle high-speed trains.
“Things are going to get worse, and more people are going to die and more people are going to be injured,” he says.
There was no pedestrian gate in Glenview until after Victor Olvera, 11, was struck and killed by a Metra train in 2004.
“The train clipped the front wheel of his bike and he was dragged under the train. He wanted to go get an ice cream cone at the dairy bar,” his aunt, Betty Olvera, says.
So far this year, there have been 222 injuries and 16 rail fatalities in Illinois. And there are 12,000 crossings where vehicles and trains are at the same level.
But for the new 110 mph high-speed rail line proposed to run from Chicago to St. Louis, officials are promising special protections.
IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell says quad gates will be installed.
“These are gates where an arm drops, blocking every lane of traffic, preventing cars from driving around,” he says.
Building raised rail beds would reduce the risk further, but state officials say there’s not enough money to do that now.