Schumer calls for Norfolk Southern to relocate idling trains from Hornell, company responds

Corning Bureau

HORNELL, N.Y. (WETM) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer has sent a letter to Norfolk Southern calling for them to “make adjustments for trains running through Hornell and prevent prolonged stops at the crossing between East Avenue and Henry Street.”

Schumer says the idling trains “not only obstruct traffic and school bus routes, but they also cut off critical emergency services, forcing vehicles to be rerouted around the perimeter of the city.”

“Idling trains in the south end of Hornell are leaving residents and businesses stranded and endangered by cutting off direct access to the rest of the community, and worse, emergency services,” said Senator Schumer. “I’m calling on Norfolk Southern to work with the city to relocate their trains and restore safety and peace of mind to Hornell immediately.”

Schumer and Hornell Mayor John Buckley said the trains could potentially block emergency services from responding to calls, creating a public safety hazard.

“This is a very real threat to public safety in the City of Hornell and needs to be remedied immediately.  Trains simply can NOT be parked in a manner such that they are blocking this crossing for hours on end and restricting first responders, pedestrians and motorists from accessing the crossing,” said John Buckley, Mayor of the City of Hornell.  “With the blocked crossing Police, Fire and Ambulance services are effectively cut off and have to be rerouted around the entire City which drastically increases response time, putting residents’ lives at risk.  In addition, we continue to receive calls about children (and some adults) climbing over and crawling under the parked trains to get across the crossing.  It is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.” 

Senator Schumer’s letter to Norfolk Southern appears below:

Dear Mr. Squires:

I write on behalf of the concerned residents of the City of Hornell to bring your attention to recent issues concerning Norfolk Southern trains’ prolonged stops at the crossing between East Avenue and Henry Street, and to seek your prompt assistance to rectify this situation. According to local leaders in touch with my office, the idling Norfolk Southern trains obstruct traffic, school bus routes, and prohibit critical access to emergency services.

Residents and local officials have brought to my attention numerous occasions in which trains were stopped for extensive periods, not only impeding traffic flow, but also creating public safety risks by hindering the mobility of fire, police, and ambulance services. These residents and emergency service professionals further note they have attempted to report concerns over these blockages on multiple occasions, yet have not experienced any improvement. It is critical that Norfolk Southern work quickly and cooperatively with local officials to adjust train schedules to ensure residents are safe and have open access to the closest emergency services, before the blockage results in a medical or other tragedy.

When the crossing is blocked off by a large train, it is not only an inconvenience to motorists, it creates safety issues for this busy area. Emergency vehicles need to be rerouted around the perimeter of the city, greatly lengthening response times. In addition, the crossway bisects one of the busiest areas of Hornell; residents have been seen walking dangerously close to or in some instances climbing over parked trains, which could have serious consequences. I ask that you take steps to quickly address these concerns and adjust schedules to ensure residents have uninhibited access to vital emergency services, bus routes, and the streets.

Thank you for your attention to these issues that will help make a meaningful improvement in safety for the City of Hornell. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

Senator Charles Schumer

Norfolk Southern released the following statement on Tuesday evening in response to Senator Schumer’s letter.

We are aware of the concerns expressed by residents of Hornell, and we regret any inconveniences to the community. We are communicating with government officials and working with our operations team on potential solutions to address these concerns. We make every effort to minimize the time that trains interrupt motor vehicle traffic at railroad crossings. At times, rail operations and traffic volumes can require a train to stop or slow, resulting in a temporarily blocked crossing. In all instances, we work to resume the safe movement of trains as quickly as possible.

Rachel McDonnell Bradshaw
Manager Media Relations
Norfolk Southern Corporation

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