New York Sen. Charles Schumer has called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to launch a safety investigation into reports that uncovered freight cars are transporting loose debris on Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tracks that has damaged automobiles and ended up on private property.
In a letter sent to the FRA, Schumer mentioned a number of safety concerns for local residents whose property abuts the tracks and the implications of loose debris on commuter rail tracks.
Schumer called for the FRA to mandate that freight cars traveling through densely populated urban and suburban communities be required by federal rules to cover cars carrying loose debris.
“The safety implications of uncovered debris traveling on commuter transit lines are too numerous to count,” says Schumer. “Whether it is damage to private property surrounding the tracks or potential obstruction on commuter rail lines that carry hundreds of thousands of people in and out of New York City every day, carrying loose debris uncovered in freight cars is a dangerous recipe for disaster and it must be stopped now.”
Schumer noted reports of at least two automobiles that were damaged by scrap metal that appeared to have been transported on LIRR tracks by freight train operators using uncovered cars.
In his letter, Schumer noted that New York and Atlantic Railways has a contract with the Long Island Railroad to operate its trains on the commuter track during off-peak hours. Multiple residents, after witnessing scattered debris along the perimeter of the property that borders the tracks, identified several instances of freight trains carrying what appeared to be construction debris in uncovered in cars.
Schumer also is calling on New York and Atlantic Railways to immediately put in place a voluntary policy of covering open freight cars when traveling in highly populated areas. If the carrier refuses, Schumer wants the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the LIRR to compel the cars be covered as a requisite for continued use of the MTA’s rail lines.