State Can't Cite Railroads For Stopping Trains In Crossings

Sep 25, 2018

Indiana can no longer hold trains accountable if they block railroad crossings for a long time.

That’s the result of a recent Indiana Supreme Court decision.

State law bars trains from blocking railroad crossings for more than 10 minutes. Violations include $200 minimum fines. Norfolk Southern accrued 23 citations in one year. So, it sued the state and argued federal law pre-empts the state’s law.

READ MORE: Mayors: We're Getting Railroaded By Trainwreck Laws, Blocked Crossings

The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously agrees. Chief Justice Loretta Rush writes that Congress largely deregulated the railroad industry in the mid-1990s. And what regulation it left in place says rail transportation is strictly the purview of the federal government.

The state’s high court says that umbrella term includes Indiana’s law about blocking railroad crossings. So the state can’t issue citations to railroads anymore.