Norfolk-Southern train still sets near East Avenue Extension, Hornell residents uneasy

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Mayor Buckly explains train presensce, talks East Palestine, Ohio

The train with 29 cars and two engines has been stationary for days, motors idling

By Syrena Lynn Carver

Just off East Avenue Extension on the south side of the city of Hornell sits a Norfolk-Southern train of about twenty cars. The train hasn’t just been a constant fixture on the tracks, it has been loudly idling. its massive engine.

As residents complained of the noise and worried about the reasons for the idling train, Hornell Mayor John Buckley provided some concrete answers.

Ironically, the Mayor had been meeting with Norfolk-Southern representatives as a matter of public safety when the issue of the idle train came across his desk.

From Mayor Buckley:

” I discussed the idling train early this morning with Mike Fesen from Norfolk Southern. I worked with Mr. Fesen a while ago to resolve the issue with parked trains blocking various crossings throughout the City. He wasn’t aware of this particular situation (he is based out of state) but looked into to it and just got back to me. According to Mr. Fesen, this a “work” train and is there to drop off rail and materials to upgrade sections of the tracks. The train is parked on the siding so other trains can safely pass. Mr. Fesen indicated the train will remain there a couple more days while work is being completed and the contents are offloaded. I let Mr. Fesen know the constant idling can be bothersome to nearby residents. He informed me that trains do not have antifreeze and must be kept idling when temperatures are low to protect the engine blocks from freezing and cracking. While I appreciate the information and understand the importance and necessity of maintenance, I let Mr. Fesen know this issue, if prolonged, can adversely impact quality of life.

Separately, but related, I discussed railroad safety with Mr. Fesen this morning and talked about it again in today’s Board of Public Safety meeting. Hornell has a long, rich history with railroad which is woven into the fabric of our city. Whether day or night, residents are accustomed the sights and sounds of passing trains through the City. However, with the recent derailment and environmental disaster in East Palestine, Ohio and subsequent second derailment in another part of Ohio, it certainly has forced me to step back and look at trains traveling through the City through a different lens. With the railroad being directly across the street from the Intermediate School and close in proximity to many homes, I have to ask myself “what if that happened here and how would we respond?” While the Federal Government is now placing more scrutiny on Norfolk Southern and rail safety, I want to make sure we are doing our part here in Hornell and are prepared for any event. That said, I am working with Mr. Fesen to set up trainings with Norfolk Southern and City departments including Fire, Police, DPW and Codes. While I encourage more Federal oversight regarding rail safety, I believe it is important to be prepared for any event, big or small. I am cognizant Norfolk Southern has many resources dedicated to Ohio during this time, but will work with them to schedule a training day as soon as possible.

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