I haven’t really mentioned Freight trains much in the blog, so let me go right ahead and change that, right now. The NY Times had this gem of a piece last week that is worth noting if you’re into NY infrastructure and how stuff gets moved around town.
Of note in this article is this line:
The complaints began two years ago, when the assembly site was half a mile away, near Christ the King Regional High School. The school protested that the garbage-filled cars were parked for hours and that the smell sometimes sickened its students. Under a settlement, the site was moved to 69th Place last year, but now the problem has shifted to that area, where Mr. Dalfino and other critics live.
As someone who’s walked these tracks for years, and who has followed this story from day one, all I can say is this:
In a nutshell the morons that run that High School heckled the railroads into changing their operations. Instead of leaving the cars in fresh pond yard a few hours, they demanded that CSX come in the early morning hours and haul them away. Bear in mind, that the train itself is perhaps 1/3rd trash cars at most, and those trash cars are sealed tight. There is no smell. I’ve sat by passing trainloads of trashcars on dozens of occasions. Maybe if you inhale real deep you can get a mild scent of it – certainly nothing you could actually get sick from. In the meantime, have YOU smelled what the average high school student smells like these days? Holy shit. Disgusting. I rather hang out by the tracks… And if noise is a problem… uhm… yeah, I think it’s safe to say High Schoolers are far louder than trains. And if you happen to go to Christ The King, you’re probably destined to be a criminal dirtbag anyway – or maybe a skank that thinks getting a boob job instead of a fucking brain is the cure to her problems. And yes, I am talking about actual CTK HS Alumni here, fuck you very much.
So what was the main result of making CSX come get the trash cars and bring them back to the Bronx just before dawn?
1) More Noise for More People. Instead of a freight train during the day, when no one cares, you now have a 5AM wake up call. And it’s not just these people living further north on the line away from Christ the King that are affected. It’s everyone living in earshot of the tracks. From Middle Village to Woodside to Jackson Heights and Astoria. Suddenly you have a loaded freight train climbing up a +1% gradient up to Hell Gate bridge – something that hasn’t happened in at least 30 years, and you’ve got a lot of people like those quoted in the article that are very annoyed. And they’re right to be annoyed.
The only catch is, they’re blaming the wrong people. I’m sure CSX doesn’t like the idea that they now have to call up employees for work at 3AM. Those same employees who used to have normal hours are now pissed too. They take their engines (and no cars) to fresh pond, get their train, and come back. Only to go back a few hours later with the loaded cars. You’ve now got 2 round trip trains doing the job of one. Excellent. I’m sure CSX enjoys paying it’s people to do half the work in double the time too. Totally makes sense, right?
(Why can’t they bring in the inbound cars before dawn? Because the train from Albany doesn’t reach the Bronx in time – it has to run late at night so as not to, you know, delay metro north commuters).
All of this, because a few sodding idiots at a self-important high school that does nothing but churn out the stupidest future jiz-moppers and strippers decided they’d try to ‘fix’ something that wasn’t broken.
But it goes way further than that. I’ve heard rumors now that there’s some other group of NIMBYS on facebook calling themselves ‘CURES’ that would like to see NY&A vacate Fresh Pond Yard (as if there’s someplace else they can go), and for CSX to abandon it’s tracks north of fresh pond and instead utilize amtrak’s rails over hell gate via sunnyside (you know, because having a freight train in the middle of Harold interlocking won’t delay hundreds of thousands of LIRR commuters every day). And hey, once CSX leaves that stretch of track for good, everyone will be happy! Yes! Look at how great it was for those people in the Bronx when the railroad stopped running down the tracks there! Yes! We can call it ‘The Queens Swamp’! Which ironically isn’t far from reality, since the tracks do run through part of what was Juniper Swamp… (Oh wait I shouldn’t say that, some of them middle village people might not want to admit their neighborhood is basically built on former wetlands).
So where does this leave us?
Basically right back where we started. The CSX route is the only significant freight railroad option for moving large amounts of goods (or garbage – NYC’s number one export)into and out of NYC and Long Island. The railroads are not going to go away. No one wants hundreds of thousands more trucks on our bridges, tunnels, and the LIE, causing accidents, huge amounts of pollution and billions in taxpayer dollars thrown away to maintain a system of trucking that isn’t economically viable. City Government made the rare but smart decision that it is indeed cheaper for tax payers and far better for the environment to ship this trash out via rail. Billions of dollars has already been invested into it and there’s no going back. They can either run the train during the day like they used to and have some crybaby private school administrators whining about it instead of cleaning up the real source of the smell (their fetid disgusting students – who should all be hosed down immediately – especially the ones with the boob implants), or they can keep running the trains as they are and you know, have a much larger population of residents complaining about it.