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CSX apologizes for rail stoppage
March 15, 2000 By BRIAN FREEMAN Of the Times Staff
DARBY BOROUGH -- At the same time a CSX Transportation spokesman was apologizing yesterday for the stoppage of one of his companys trains on Main Street Monday afternoon, Mayor Paula Brown was considering again blocking the tracks with her car because of two other stoppages that occurred Monday night and early yesterday morning. Yesterdays turn of events was just another chapter in the continuing saga between Brown and the freight transportation giant. The ongoing problem came to light after Brown blocked the tracks with her car --- a protest to a series of derailments in the borough last month. Brown said a CSX train stopped yesterday about 4 oclock and blocked traffic at Sixth and Main streets for almost two hours. She said another stoppage occurred between 6-7:30 Monday night, and a third occurred after midnight yesterday morning.
"Weve all had enough," Brown said. "It has to stop now. Someone will get hurt or killed. Last night, adults were climbing over the train while CSX officials sat there and did nothing. We had only three police officers available, and they could not have protected the entire track area by themselves. They should have been answering calls.
"Were already financially strapped in this borough, and you cant afford to keep our police officers babysitting CSX." CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan disputed much of Browns claims, but said CSX was sorry for the inconvenience caused by any stoppages.
"We apologize to the community and regret the situation," Sullivan said. "Our first and primary obligation, concern and focus is safety. Safety for the community, for the employees and in the handling of materials we carry. It is not our desire to be at odds with any community in which we operate.
"One stoppage occurred late yesterday afternoon, and that was truly unfortunate because it involved moving a train and blocking a crossing when there are set instructions out there that we are not to do that," Sullivan continued. "The crew was taken out of service, and were interviewing that crew. Based on the results of those interviews, well take whatever measures are appropriate.
"There was a similar incident early (yesterday) morning," Sullivan said. "It appears that was an act of vandalism. The crew stopped short of the crossing --- as we told them to do when the train cant go all the way through.
"When the train started up, it went into emergency, which means the breaks stopped it, and it blocked the crossing. The stoppage was for approximately 52 minutes. We are investigating it, and we regret it, but it was beyond our control."
Sullivan said the third stoppage didnt block the crossing at Sixth and Main streets.
"Here we had a train stopped, not blocking crossings, and we get criticized for it," Sullivan said. "That stoppage was well within the nature of train operations." Brown disagreed; saying CSX is only interested in the bottom line. She said she recently witnessed five engines pulling 146 cars.
"Its corporate downsizing at the expense of the public," Brown said. "CSX should stop raping us. All CSX cares about is the all-mighty dollar. They are playing a game with every town that this railroad goes through. Why five engines pulling a train? Why not two separate crews pulling half the amount of cars?" Brown considered blocking the tracks yesterday with her personal vehicle, but there is the small matter of a court order, which could put her in jail if she violates it. Borough Solicitor Fincourt Shelton, who has had his own run-ins with the volatile mayor, defended Brown for her convictions.
"CSX is wrong," Shelton said. "They have a duty to all the towns to run their line in a safe manner. They shirk that duty any time they park their vehicles across Darby, Yeadon and Collingdale and cut those towns off. (Brown) is aware blocking the track could lead to contempt of court or her arrest. Sometimes if youre really interested in your cause, youre willing to handle the consequences of your actions. No doubt her cause is just."
Looking for a coalition of support, Brown yesterday contacted some of the towns that the CSX line runs through, including Collingdale, Glenolden, Prospect Park, Ridley Township, Sharon Hill, Tinicum Township, Upper Chichester and Yeadon.
"We all share a common problem with CSX," Brown said. "We need to come together as one united group and rectify the situation for the safety of all our residents. We have to make CSX accountable for its actions and demand an immediate response."
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 15, 2000