(WSPA) – Residents are voicing their concerns about trains being stopped on tracks blocking Upstate intersections for hours and even days.
Those who live in the area of Rutherford Road and Waddell Road said it happens frequently and has been going on for three years, since the pandemic.
Piedmont Park Fire Department said it affects the way they do their job, causing several delays.
“Once our guys got here they noticed the train was sitting [on the tracks],” Battalion Chief Duane Brock said. “They could actually see the blow of the fire on the other side of the tracks and they knew they had a working fire but had to go all the way up to Poinsett to turn around and that took an extra five to eight minutes to get there.”
Norfolk Southern said the railroads are still being affected by COVID-19 with labor shortages.
The company said they have federally mandated hours of service, much like pilots and truck drivers.
They said after a recent review of their operations, they have made some changes to the way their trains are built.
They told us that is also contributing to more frequent stopped trains.
“It is dangerous for everyone involved,” Brock said. “People get up here to the intersection and are looking for some sort of guidance but there is nothing there to tell them what to do.”
In a statement, Norfolk Southern said, “Every day, we work hard to keep our trains moving safely and efficiently to deliver the goods that power the U.S. economy and be a good neighbor in the communities we not only operate in, but live in. Whenever our trains experience a delay, our teams work hard to minimize the length of time we may have to occupy a crossing.”
Brock said more cooperation is needed between the state who controls the intersection and the railroad.
He said drivers are put in a predicament of what to do next and many are left with one choice: to run the red light in order to get turned around.
“They need to be working actively towards making a solution instead of just leaving it up to the drivers that pull up and OK you’re on your own. Figure it out,” Brock said.
Norfolk Southern said that “wherever there is a more acute, recurring issue, we engage with local communities to identify long-term solutions. We never want to inconvenience any member of any community with a stopped train.”
You can report when trains are blocking intersections to the Federal Railroad Administration.