SCHUMER: ULSTER RESIDENTS ARE IRKED AND FRUSTRATED WHEN CSX TRAIN IDLES FOR HOURS BLOCKING SEVERAL MAJOR ROADS IMPACTING RESIDENTS AND SMALL BUSINESSES; SENATOR SAYS CSX NEEDS TO FIND ANOTHER AREA TO LEAVE TRAINS – CURRENT STOP IS A MAJOR SAFETY CONCERN
After Hearing Pleas From Ulster Residents, Schumer Urges CSX To Move Its Idling Cars, Which Are Blocking Off A Major Road, Preventing Residents From Traveling, Hurting Local Businesses & Severing Closest Fire Department From Town
Schumer To CSX: Old Neighborhood Rd Isn’t The Neighborhood Rest Stop For Your Trains
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today joined residents, small business owners and local officials to call on CSX to immediately find another area to park idling trains that currently sever the community in half, impacting residents and small businesses. In addition, Schumer said these idling trains pose a significant safety concern because parts of the Hudson Valley are mountainous with few roads leading to the main highways and the nearest firehouse or school can be on the other side of the railroad tracks. Schumer said CSX should be a good neighbor by relocating the idling trains that prevent the community from passing through the grade crossing. Further, Schumer asked that CSX take proactive measures in the future when determining train schedules impact on grade-crossings.
“They say fences make good neighbors – but when the fence is a long train, that is not true. Just ask the residents right here in Kingston. These idling trains act as a barrier, completely cutting off this community for hours at a time and blocking off the closest fire department and school from residents,” said Senator Schumer. “I am calling on CSX to be a good neighbor and to figure out an area of the track to park these cars so that they will no longer interfere with the quality of life of residents, harm business activity, and block critical access to emergency services.”
Schumer explained that, because there is a 12 hour driving limit for crews, CSX has to stop the train wherever it is and to call for a new crew to come in. This rule is justified given the fact that many trains haul dangerous chemicals like sulfuric acid and crude oil. However, it is unacceptable for CSX stop the train so it blocks off the community from normal ebbs and flows of pedestrian and street traffic. Moreover, CSX’s responses to residents who call about being blocked off have been found woefully lacking.
Schumer was joined by members of the community who said that idling trains have had a negative impact on their daily schedule for years. Most alarming, Schumer said, is that residents live in fear that emergency services could be prevented from accessing the community and parents may not be able to get to schools to pick up their children. On many occasions, trains have idled for extended periods, closing off access for several hours at a time. Therefore, Schumer said this blockage is not only an inconvenience for residents and a deterrent to local business, but also a public safety hazard.
Schumer was joined by County Executive Mike Hein. Commissioner of Emergency Services, Steve Peterson, Supervisor of Kingston, Paul Landi, and impacted business owner Frank Falatyn.
“I want to thank Senator Schumer for once again fighting for the people of Ulster County. The at-grade railroad crossing blockages have been a significant concern for far too long and I am pleased to work with the Senator to solve these problems. The safety of Ulster County’s residents will always be one of my top priorities and blocked railroad crossings do not only disrupt residents’ everyday lives, but more importantly, deny access to critical services in times of an emergency. I am honored to work hand in hand with the Senator to identify a solution,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.
“We appreciate Senator Schumer’s response upon hearing concerns from Ulster County regarding CSX trains idling and stopping, sometimes for hours on end, by homes and businesses making them virtually inaccessible. My primary responsibility is to ensure that Ulster County residents get the emergency services they need, and these idling trains present a clear danger,” said Steve Peterson, Director of Ulster County Emergency Services.
Schumer is urging CSX to be a good neighbor and work with residents to support their effort to protect the community. Schumer said that the curtailment of the number of trains that are allowed to idle on these tracks and block off the neighborhood is an ideal solution but added that CSX must find a long term solution for these idling trains that have proven themselves to be a hindrance for the Kingston community and beyond.
Schumer has been a tireless advocate for making improvements to rail safety. He pushed the FRA to investigate the recent train derailment in Newburgh. He led the charge against dangerous oil-by-rail cars including DOT-111s and he's routinely fought for swifter implementation of the lifesaving Positive Train Control technology. Schumer has also been outspoken on the need for railroads to conduct comprehensive sleep apnea screening for their engineers, a frequent cause of derailments, and he's successfully pushed for the installation of inward facing cameras on a number of rail systems.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to CSX appears below:
Dear Mr. Harrison:
I write to bring your swift attention to repeated concerns by residents ?throughout Ulster County about nearby rail-crossings routinely blocked by CSX trains, prohibiting residents’ access to the nearest emergency service stations and schools. These residents cite how on numerous occasions they have called CSX to report a train blocking a crossings but have yet to see improvement over the last four years. It is incumbent that CSX work quickly and cooperatively to adjust train schedules that will ensure residents are safe and have open access to the closest emergency services and schools.
Homeowners report blockages pose a severe safety risk as the area is mountainous with few roads leading to the main highways and the nearest firehouse and schools require crossing the railroad tracks. When a train is more than a mile long, the train blocks multiple rail-crossings exacerbating the issue. The next nearest emergency services could be up to 7 miles away on narrow, local roads which could considerably lengthen response times.
I ask that you take steps to quickly address these residents concern and adjust schedules to ensure residents have open access to emergency services and school. Further, I ask that CSX take proactive measures in the future when determining train schedules impact on grade-crossings. Thank you for your attention to these issues that will help make a meaningful improvement in safety throughout New York. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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