October 20, 2003 - Posted at 3:53 p.m. CDT
PARAGOULD, AR - Union Pacific Railroad will begin increasing the speeds of its trains to 60 miles per hour on the rail lines operating through Paragould, effective November 1.
The Omaha, Nebraska-based company informed K8 News of the developments via fax this morning, but apparently failed to notify Paragould city officials. Paragould police chief J.D. Stephenson was not aware of the news until he was contacted by KAIT for his reaction. He immediately voiced obvious concerns. "Anytime that you have higher speeds, whether on a rail or on highway, the chances of accidents increase, and the chances of injury also go up. So, the concerns are that the motoring public are going to be more at risk, I think, with the higher speeds," said Stephenson.
Train speeds will be increased five miles per hour each week until the new speed limit is reached on November 22. Currently, trains operate through Paragould at 40 miles per hour because of track and operating constraints, but UP claims recent track improvements will permit higher speeds.