Fun at grade crossings

I’ve written before about the sometimes-illogical behavior of crossing gates near Caltrain stations. On the way home from work today, I witnessed a series of events of which I am still amazed no one was injured.

As a northbound train was at the Mountain View station loading passengers, a southbound train approached the Castro Street crossing. As the crossing arms dropped, the train slowed and stopped, maybe a hundred feet north of the street. The gate remained closed for maybe five minutes, the train not moving. Finally, the crossing gate gave up on the train, and the arms began to lift. This is the exact moment the train began to move. By the time the arms began to lower again, the locomotive was already half way through the intersection. The train moved slowly across the street, blaring its horn. As it finally cleared the intersection, of course, the northbound train had just begun to leave the station, and the crossing gates remained down, no train present, for another minute as that train approached the intersection, until finally it passed by and the gates opened, allowing the traffic to flow again.

This was just before six o’clock, and cars were backing up in at least five directions on Castro, Evelyn, Central and Moffett. And, of course, on the first workday after ending daylight savings time, it was an hour darker than usual, which I’m sure didn’t help. I kept expecting a car, pedestrian, or both to dash across the street and be struck by one of the trains. Luckily, that didn’t happen, but witnessing the scene made me acutely aware of how dangerous these sorts of things are.

Remember: Look, Listen…Live!