Do something about trains

Published 12:27 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2020

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To the editor:

In response to the Jan. 21, 2020, article “You Asked: Why do trains sometimes stop and back up?” several important details were not addressed. The article failed to acknowledge just how time-consuming and inconvenient stopped trains are to Suffolk citizens.

As a Suffolk citizen residing on East Washington Street, the reasons provided by the CSX Corporation and the Norfolk Southern Corporation about why the trains stop and adjust while on the tracks were, in short, exhausting. Based on both companies’ ample success, I would assume tasks such as mandatory safety inspections or transferring train cars would be done more efficiently. Instead, however, these tasks are carried out during the busiest times of the day, lasting nearly two hours until complete.

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Being a part-time student attending Suffolk’s Camp Community College while also maintaining a part-time job with a company located on Suffolk’s North Main Street, my average day offers little room for setbacks or hiccups. Traveling across Suffolk’s train tracks offers me the quickest route when I have little time to get from school to work and vice versa. On a train-free day, I would leave from school at 3 p.m., travel home to prepare and leave for work by 4:45 p.m. During the week of Feb. 16, 2020, I worked every day and expected to be on the clock at my job by 5 p.m. Every single day I left for work, there was a train stopped on the tracks. As a result, the first few days I was nearly 25 minutes late, and on the remaining days, I took precautionary efforts to notify my supervisor of my potential tardiness. As someone who is praised for my punctuality, being unnecessarily tardy made me furious.

To add insult to injury, on three separate nights while I traveled home from work around 9 p.m. there was a train, once again, stopped on the tracks. This time, the trains appeared to be completely still. There were no sounds of shifting train cars or adjusting tracks, just complete silence. My typical 15-minute drive home had totaled almost an hour and a half because of a halted train.

The most recent incident ignited an increased level of fear within me. On Feb. 24, 2020, while on my way home from work, ambulances rushed past me with their sirens ringing only to be halted by the same train keeping me from going home. Someone’s cry for help was put on hold due to a stopped train.

Something needs to be done about these trains. Yes, I realize trains are still needed for Suffolk’s growing economy; however, there has to be a better way to carry out day-to-day tasks. Suffolk’s top officials along with CSX and Norfolk Southern Cooperation need to discover a method less time-consuming and life-threatening when performing operational business duties. A simple time slot list of scheduled trains available to the public could be of some assistance. Prove to me and other Suffolk citizens that our time, life and community are as valuable and important as the trains.

Alexsus Goodman