It has been a long time since a passenger train came through Shelbyville, but it happened on Thursday last week. This special train came on a very special mission—to teach train safety through Union Pacific’s Operation Lifesaver.
A delegation from Shelbyville boarded the train at the 9th street crossing and soon began a leisurely trip to Findlay. The train stopped for around 30 minutes for the educational lectures and then returned to Shelbyville for another short run to Clarksburg and back.
The UP Cares Public Safety Train included three passenger cars: the Challenger, City of Salina and Cheyenne. It sometimes includes up to nine cars, but was limited to three for the smaller audience. The Challenger is the domed, scenic view car; the City of Salinas car contains additional seating plus kitchen, bathrooms and sleeping quarters. The Cheyenne is the business car, complete with flat screen TV, sofas, meeting room and other seating.
Passengers on board included a delegation from Lake Shelbyville Corps of Engineers, city councilman Bill Shoaff and wife Debbie, Mayor Jeff Johnson, teacher Stephanie Shoaff and around a dozen driver’s education students from Shelbyville High School and others.
The idea of the program is that one way to learn about train safety is to actually be on one, with many on board having their first train ride.
UP Manager of Public Safety, Kevin Dawson, still holds an engineer’s degree before becoming Manager of Public Safety. Dawson said that from the engineer’s perspective, being involved in a fatal accident is extremely traumatic.
“Once it happens, you can never erase it. It’s such a tragedy to have that happen. They are just taking their train from point A to B, not wanting anything bad to happen in between. Some are so devastated they don’t return to work.”