Letter to the Editor: North End residents need help!

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
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EDITOR’S NOTE: North End resident Tom Denne shared this letter with the News Tribune. It was originally sent to a supervisory board of the railroad.)

To the Editor:

I have lived in the North End of Keyser (aka the wrong side of the tracks) for more than 40 years.

During that time I have adjusted to having to wait to exit my neighborhood. Twenty-five to 30 years ago, we had a railroad yard here and, oftentimes the workers, in assembling trains, would do their best to free up one of our two car crossings. Half-hour waits were inconvenient but the back-and-forth train movement continually served to remind me that these were people doing their jobs. (I was formally employed by the Union RR in USSteel mills in Pittsburgh).

Currently our railroad yard isn’t really functional so train assemblies are not the issue. The issue has become stopped trains, blocking both crossings, and remaining stopped for extended periods of time.

On this past Thanksgiving Day at 11:30 a.m. I was the second car in line at crossing #144833R in Keyser. After a 15-minute wait where the train had not moved and both tracks were blocked, I watched in horror as a young teenage girl rushed to get to her house - presumed restroom emergency. Before I could try to stop her, she was up on the train car connectors and over to the other side of the tracks. Not two minutes later this car coupler relieved the slack of being stopped and compressed as the train moved.

I couldn’t get out of my mind the vision of that girl’s leg being stuck/smashed in the coupler!!!

This morning a train was stopped for 90 full minutes at the most inconvenient time for people getting to work/kids getting to school! I called the CSX emergency line and I was not vulgar but I was angry and I only got angrier as my emergency on behalf of my grandkids and my neighbors was referred to as something that she could not address.

She wanted me to go to a website! I didn’t appreciate her response. I was speaking to her at approximately 7:45 am. Please get the tape to determine how I could have been more effective in my attempt to communicate.

She was already aware of the problem but offered no explanation/solution.

In case I haven’t been clear with my concern, other than climbing across trains, we have no way of getting across the tracks when both crossings are blocked. Stationary trains blocking both crossings are on the increase! We must have some relief! Either don’t stop trains when both crossings are blocked or station a brakeman at one of the two crossings to give us emergency access to the outside world!!

My 2 year old granddaughter and I run to the corner of the street to count engines and look at coal on the cars heading east. Every time she hears the train whistle, that’s what we do. I gather her in my arms and we run to the corner!! Fifteen years ago I did this same thing for her older brother!! I’m not anti railroad at all!!

Please, help us!

Tom Denne