Residents in one Oklahoma town say stopped train is a safety issue

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NOBLE, Okla. – Residents in an Oklahoma town say they are waiting as long as four hours for a train to move along the tracks.

“When the train just stops, it totally disrupts life for everyone that’s on this street,” said Chad Byrd, who lives near the track.

It’s a frustrating problem for residents in Noble, who say the train often blocks the only way in and out of their neighborhood.

For Byrd, the road not only leads to his house but to little league fields, businesses and other homes.

“There’s only one way in and one way out of the addition,” he said.

It’s a problem that has kept Byrd’s mother from doctor’s appointments.

He says it’s kept others from getting to work on time and even made one woman more than an hour late to her own father’s funeral.

“They don’t have any regard to people’s time,” he said.

As we were talking with Byrd, a railroad employee, who did not give us his name, got off of the train and came to talk to us.

While his train was not blocking the road, he explained it’s often an issue of a train’s length.

“We have a general notice out that we’re not supposed to block it,” he said.

The train he was on is about 5,000 feet long, but he says longer trains have to pull forward through the crossing because of a steep incline to the south, which could cause a train to slide.

He also says this is a passing area where trains often wait for another to go by.

Byrd appreciated his explanation but says it’s still concerning.

“I think the major concern is if someone is injured, getting an ambulance to that side,” said Byrd.

Also, he says when a train stops at the crossing, people will risk their safety to get across the tracks.

Many times, he says people have climbed over or under the train.

Officials say it is not safe because the train could start moving at any time, or another train could drive past.

“I think it’s going to take a major tragedy for the railroad company to wake up and decide that they’re going to do something,” Byrd said.

A spokesperson for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway says they have a meeting with the City of Noble this month and are hoping to come up with a solution.

The spokesperson added that recent rain and flooding have backed up many of the railways, causing extra traffic on others. They say they are working as quickly as possible to reduce that traffic.

The city manager’s office also told us they are working with the railway to solve the problem.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates this sort of thing. They say if you encounter a non-moving train blocking a crossing for more than 20 minutes, you should call the emergency number posted at the crossing to report it.

Regulations sent to us by the commission state that a crossing should not be blocked for more than 10 minutes; however, an exception can be made when a train is stopped to allow another train to pass.

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