Stopped trains blocking crossings to Duncannon neighborhood


DUNCANNON, Pa. (WHTM)- Several residents who live on Railroad Street in Duncannon are fed up.

“I understand that the trains have to do what they have to do but they could leave one crossing open,” said Melissa Keck.

Keck has lived on Railroad Street since she was a child. There are approximately 20 homes on the road, which is bordered by the train tracks on one side and the Susquehanna River on the other side.

There are only two crossings to access Railroad Street and residents say Norfolk Southern trains have been blocking those crossings for hours at a time, several times a month.

“It’s happening three to five times a month and it’s usually at the busiest times when people are going to work and kids are going to school, so people are late for work and kids are late for school. We can’t get in and out if we wanted to,” said Keck

“A train stopped this morning and had both of our crossings blocked. From 4:30 a.m. till 8:40 a.m. no one could go anywhere,” said Melodie Roy.

Roy’s family has lived on Railroad Street for 70 years.

“We didn’t have that kind of problem with any of the other railroads, not Pennsylvania Railroad or Penn Central,” said Roy. “Norfolk Southern is the worst neighbor we have ever had. They are not willing to work with you.”

“When Conrail owned it they would split the train in half, especially if it was broke down for hours on end,” said Keck.

Residents have made several calls to Norfolk Southern.

“They just tell you a hose broke or this happened or that happened,” said Roy.

“If there is an emergency back here, like a house fire, our houses would be gone,” said Keck. “People are jumping the tracks. It’s dangerous.”

According to the law, trains cannot block crossings for more than 5 minutes. Violators can face a $500 fine. There are exceptions, including stopping to avoid striking any object or person on the track, a disabled train, and switching operations.

“Stopped trains and blocked crossings are a concern for Norfolk Southern and we actively work to avoid them when possible. We have heard the concerns from this community and are monitoring our activities through there,” said Jeff DeGraff, Norfolk Southern spokesperson.

According to Norfolk Southern, the section of track near Railroad Street can see more than 50 trains per day. It is also close to the Enola Yard, which is one of the largest and busiest Norfolk Southern railyards.

“In reference to “breaking trains” to open a crossing, that is something considered in emergency situations. However, recoupling cars is a time-consuming task that can actually extend the problem, so we avoid doing it unless there is a legitimate emergency. In those cases, we are in contact with local emergency officials and can coordinate proper responses.” said DeGraff.

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