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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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