FRA: Re-Opening of Texas’ Busiest Rail Interlocking Will Improve Safety

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo recently joined U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, in celebrating the re-opening of a 141-year-old railroad interlocking that will improve safety while relieving rail congestion following a multi-million dollar overhaul.

The newly rebuilt interlocking, known as Tower 55, represents a $101 million retrofit of one of the nation’s busiest rail interlockings that 110 freight and passenger trains pass through daily. The project received $34 million in federal funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

“Safety is our highest priority and these upgrades at Tower 55 will help further reduce the already declining number of grade crossing accidents in Texas,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “This is a winning investment because it improves safety, increases efficiency, and strengthens the local and national economies.”

An interlocking system is an arrangement of signaling devices at track crossings or junctions that prevent conflicting movements of trains, and is designed to prevent the display of a signal for trains to proceed unless the route to be used is proven to be clear and safe.

This project eliminated three grade crossings and a critical chokepoint in the nation’s rail network. The improved traffic flow through this interlocking will enhance the flow of commerce, minimize wait times for trains and reduce the number of blocked crossings. Specifically, the elimination of the Peach Street grade crossing clears the way for children to safely get to and from school without crossing railroad tracks, according to the feds.