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Switch tampering raises rail security alert in Iowa

(The following appeared on the Des Moines Register website on June 14, 2011.)

MENLO, Iowa — Railroad employees are watching track equipment closely after a switching mechanism was tampered with in west-central Iowa.

Early Sunday morning, an observant Iowa Interstate Railroad crew member on a westbound train spotted something that didn't look right on a switch just west of Menlo.

The railroad worker contacted dispatchers. The switch, which was supposed to appear green, was showing a little red, said Mick Burkart, chief operating officer of the railroad.

That posed a danger for eastbound trains. A westbound train was stopped while railroad officials inspected the switch.

When it became apparent that someone had tampered with a switching mechanism, the Guthrie County sheriff's office, state investigators and the FBI were contacted.

Full story: Des Moines Register

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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