SCHUMER: MIDDLETOWN NEIGHBORHOOD IS PLAGUED BY IDLING TRAINS THAT SEND NOXIOUS SMOKE & FUMES INTO HOMES, CAUSE SERIOUS HEALTH CONCERNS – CALLS ON REGIONAL RAIL LLC TO FIND NON-RESIDENTIAL AREA TO LEAVE TRAINS FOR HOURS ON END
In Recent Years, Neighborhood Near Lafayette Ave. Has Seen Uptick in Idling Trains That Emit Noxious Smelling Fumes & Smoke That Permeate Homes & Backyards - Schumer Urges Regional Rail LLC, Which Operates The Middletown & New Jersey Railroad Cars, to Get Cars Out of Residential Neighborhood
Schumer Also Writes the Fed. Railroad Admin. To Consider Investigating Noise & Environmental Pollution Violations in Middletown Neighborhood, Should Company Not Voluntarily Rectify Community’s Concerns
Schumer: Middletown Families Cannot Have Rail Smoke & Fumes As Neighbors
Yesterday, at the Cul-De-Sac of Hill Street in Middletown, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined neighbors and local officials to call on Regional Rail LLC to immediately find a non-residential area to park idling trains that sit for hours behind a residential neighborhood and emit noxious fumes and smoke that permeate homes and yards. According to neighborhood residents and Middletown Mayor DeStefano, there are Middletown & New Jersey Railroad freight cars, owned by Regional Rail LLC, that sit idling behind Lafayette Ave. for hours on end, and pollute the air to the point that residents don’t feel safe allowing their children outdoors at times. The local community reports a significant uptick in the amount of time these trains sit and the level of pollution they’re emitting. As pleas from 40 to 50 homes and the Mayor to Regional Rail LLC to help rectify this issue have fallen on deaf ears, Schumer weighed in with a personal letter to the CEO of Regional Rail LLC, calling on him to immediately address the environmental and noise pollution they are causing in Middletown. What’s more, Schumer wrote to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and will push the FRA to consider investigating this pollution and the best way to protect these Middletown residents, if Regional Rail LLC does not voluntarily move these idling freight cars to a non-residential part of track.
“They say good fences make good neighbors. Unfortunately for the residents of Middletown, there is no fence big enough to block out the smoke and noise from rail cars that Regional Rail LLC have let idle in residential neighborhoods,” said Schumer. “There is no reason Regional Rail couldn’t find an area of the track to park these cars where they do not interfere with residents’ health and quality of life, so I’m urging them to adopt a friendly neighbor policy and find new locations for these idling cars. If they don’t act quickly, I will push the FRA to consider investigating this line of track for air and noise pollution—to ensure compliance and a swift resolution to the issue.”
Schumer was joined by Middletown Mayor DeStefano and local homeowners who have experienced the noise and air pollution of idling trains. The regional train line owned by Regional Rail LLC runs through several residential communities in Middletown and residents have noticed an uptick over the past year in the number and duration of trains idling in their neighborhoods. Between 40 to 50 homes have registered complaints of noxious smoke, fumes and noise pollution in their backyards. Local homeowners and the Mayor of Middletown enlisted Senator Schumer’s help when their complaints to the company fell on deaf ears.
Schumer is pushing a two-pronged plan: he has written the CEO of Regional Rail LLC and urged him to find new locations—far from residential communities—and designate them as “quiet zones” where trains can idle without disrupting the surrounding community. Schumer noted that this was the simplest and most cost-effective solution, but that he is also prepared, as a second prong of his plan, to call on the FRA to inspect these idling trains and to test for any violations to existing EPA pollution standards, amongst others. If any violations are found, the FRA would work with Regional Rail LLC to ensure that the air and noise quality in this residential community meet appropriate standards.
Schumer stood at the cul-de-sac of Hill Street in Middletown with some of the homeowners who have complained of an increase of the frequency of idling over the past several years. Schumer highlighted the story of Kristinn Yonelunas, who in April had a Regional Rail train idle behind her 35 Lafayette Avenue home for over 4 hours. Her husband and two small children, ages 3 and 1, were playing in the backyard and had to be rushed inside in order to avoid a blue smoke and noxious odors emitted by the train. Mrs. Yonelunas attests that even after going inside and shutting all the doors and windows, the fumes from the idling train permeated her home.
“No matter what side you live on, when there is a train idling for hours near your home, you’re on the wrong side of the tracks. Ask any resident of this community and they will tell you that the horns, smoke, noise, and odor are disruptive to their lives and a risk to their wellbeing. I’m urging Regional Rail to resolve this issue immediately, and if they do not comply, I will seek alternative means with the federal government to ensure that the quality of life for residents of the Middletown community is not risked by idling trains,” said Schumer.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to Regional Rail LLC’s President Robert C Parker and the FRA appears below:
Dear President Parker,
CC: FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo
I write today to urge the Regional Rail LLC to immediately initiate changes to your hauling practices to prevent trains from idling in Middletown, New York. It has been reported by residents and elected officials that idling trains in the residential neighborhood along Lafayette Ave are forcing residents to remain indoors as exhaust and noise are filling their neighborhood for hours on end.
I am greatly concerned by the reports of idling trains in a residential neighborhood, as residents have to deal with unnecessary emissions and noise from train engines. I am alarmed that the Regional Rail LLC’s hauling practices are creating a potential health hazard and unpleasant situation for residents.
I urge you to immediately change your hauling practices and work with the community to find a new location outside of this residential neighborhood to have trains idle. Regional Rail LLC and other freight carriers provide a vital service to New York communities and business, but it is fundamental that they do so while being a good steward of the railways and communities which they pass through.
Charles E. Schumer