Trains left idling next to Ashtabula County homes for hours, sometimes days: I-Team


PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) – Some people in Ashtabula County turned to the FOX 8 I-Team to investigate trains left idling behind homes with engines rumbling even for days at a time.

Community members in Plymouth Township can hardly take it. They wonder why trains sit there parked, but aren’t shutting down. They say it goes on for hours and sometimes days.

Al Wintz has been documenting what happens with Norfolk Southern engines. He goes out with a video camera, a sound meter and a notebook. He shared some examples of what he’s recorded.

“One time, 89 hours, plus,” he said. “One time. five days straight. 24 hours just sitting there idling. Why?”

SKYFOX HD captured a view of the homes near the tracks.

People there expect some noise, but they say they have not been given a good explanation for the constant idling from Norfolk Southern or elected officials.

“Sometimes they leave it idling, and then it goes ‘boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom’ and then it goes louder,” said Sharon Kohta. “Wednesday before Thanksgiving, it sat there until the next Monday.”

If you look around, you might be wonder why those trains have to sit idling right there. There’s no rail yard and no businesses.

We learned that the rail company uses this particular spot because of other operations just down the line and the spot where the trains sit won’t be moved even a little.

Norfolk Southern released the following statement:

The property in question was built next to a part of our track with siding, where trains are staged strategically to maintain the overall fluidity of the network. These trains may wait in this siding for a variety of reasons and  for a variety of durations. Trains must remain idling to maintain crucial safety functions like the brakes throughout the length of the train. We understand this resident’s concern, but idling trains are simply a part of normal operations that help maintain safety and efficiency in keeping goods moving.”

“Norfolk Southern said the tracks were here before we here. That doesn’t make any difference,” Wintz said.

Wintz said the long idling just started in the last two years. He doesn’t want to hear there’s no end in sight and plans to keep fighting.

We’ve learned crews also switch with those trains idling there, and another factor in how long they sit there is short-staffing.

We’ve seen restaurants to safety forces to almost every industry nationwide struggling to hire enough employees.

The rail industry is having the same problem.

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