PLAINFIELD – A stopped freight train closed roads for two-and-a-half hours Thursday morning.
When the Canadian National train stopped about 6:30 a.m., traffic was unable to pass at the Lockport Street and Renwick Road crossings, Police Chief John Konopeck said.
“A quarter-mile to the north and [blocked crossings] would’ve split the town in half until 9 a.m.,” Konopeck said. Police officers redirected traffic and the village sent out notifications on social media.
“It was a huge train, and it apparently just broke down on the tracks,” said Tom Hernandez, spokesman for Plainfield School District 202. School started at normal times, he said. But students were delayed as buses were blocked and bus drivers sought alternate routes.
Konopeck said CN employees told police an equipment problem started the delay, but Mayor Mike Collins was told additional time was taken for a shift change during repairs.
“I question why they sent out a crew that didn’t have enough hours [available],” Collins said Thursday. The mayor said the village will address that with CN.
“They need to be more responsive,” Collins said. “[The delays] are starting to get more troublesome.”
CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said one train tripped a “hotbox,” which measures heat on the wheels and train assembly, but ended up delaying three others when it stopped.
“The crew of [one of the blocked trains] ran out of hours of service,” Waldron said. “It was an unusual circumstance and we apologize to Plainfield motorists for the inconvenience.”
Konopeck said stopped trains have been a recurring problem since CN bought the EJ&E railway in 2008. More trains use the rail lines that cross Plainfield roads at 13 different intersections.
“It seems to be worse in the winter,” Konopeck noted. Konopeck and Collins were told many of the stops occur after the “hotbox” is tripped.
“So they have to stop the train and get out to look, which can take time for a half-mile- or mile-long train,” Konopeck said. “We’ve asked CN to see if the hotbox is defective or look into moving the sensor where they don’t affect the crossings.”
Konopeck said because the tracks run through the center of town, the village has been more affected than other communities. Plainfield police have compared data with other cities along the CN line.
Waldron said the company is required to report stoppages that last more than 10 minutes to the Surface Transportation Board each month.
Waldron said four trains reported delays at the Renwick Road crossing in October. Three trains were delayed in September and four in August.
CN estimates 28 trains use the lines through Plainfield each day, according to Waldron.
• Herald-News editor Bob Okon contributed to this report.