CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal law governing train crews was on a collision course with irate motorists Monday night, and motorists lost.

While you can drive your car as far and as long as you want, federal law bars train crews from operating more than 12 consecutive hours, and Hawthorn Woods Police Sgt. John Tennant says the crew handling a Canadian National Railway (CN) freight train ran out of time while blocking busy Old McHenry Road on Monday at 4:45 p.m.

The railroad said it was short on crews and said the crew members had to drive to the spot where the train was stopped.

Asked why they couldn’t have found another stopping point that didn’t block hundreds of motorists, Tennant said the CN crew told them maintenance-of-way equipment was using other potential stopping points. The replacement crew got the train moving around 7:30 p.m.

Tennant said there were no citations issued, and none that could be issued, for blocking the road. He said the most police could do is direct drivers around the blocked crossing.

Residents of communities along CN’s former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (EJ&E) Railway line have complained bitterly about delays because of long freight trains on the line. Before the CN purchase, only a couple of trains a day traversed the line. Many more fright trains now use the CN line to avoid train yards and terminals closer into the city, which is increasingly a choke point for the nation’s freight railroads.