Rearview: Fighting rail in the name of safety

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Overdrive‘s Rearview series is a new recurring monthly feature taking a look back at major trucking issues through the lens of archived editions of Overdrive.

From the June 1969 edition of Overdrive.From the June 1969 edition of Overdrive.

One of many battles waged by Overdrive in its first 20 years was against the rail industry, including its powerful lobbying arm and its cozy relationship with lawmakers.

“Happy New Year from the Milwaukee Road” was Overdrive’s headline for this Des Moines Register photo showing a two-train collision on New Year’s morning of 1969. A Milwaukee Road freight train plowed into the rear of another train, killing an engineer and a brakeman.“Happy New Year from the Milwaukee Road” was Overdrive’s headline for this Des Moines Register photo showing a two-train collision on New Year’s morning of 1969. A Milwaukee Road freight train plowed into the rear of another train, killing an engineer and a brakeman.

This cartoon in the June 1969 Overdrive corresponds with an eight-page article detailing about a dozen violent train crashes from the preceding decade.

Overdrive editors blamed the rail industry’s negligence, as well as state and federal regulators, for allowing the fatal, expensive derailments and grade crossing collisions to continue.

Editors urged readers to write their representatives and senators to ask them to investigate the problem and rein in what Overdrive presented as an overindulgent, arrogant rail industry.

At other times, Overdrive took on the railroads by lobbying lawmakers for fairer treatment for the trucking industry and equitable infrastructure while campaigning for a more unified approach from trucking on such issues.

Here’s a look at a few other political cartoon takes on the subject from archived issues of Overdrive:

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