Friday, January 19, 2018
Public safety

Pasco sheriff accuses CSX of 'willful neglect' over stopped Dade City trains

DADE CITY — Dade City officials aren't the only ones frustrated about trains stopping dead in their tracks in the middle of town.

On Wednesday, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco added his voice to the chorus of complaints.

In a scathing letter posted on social media and sent to CSX president and CEO Michael J. Ward, Nocco accused the company of "willful neglect" for twice allowing trains to cut off emergency access to the city's east side.

He quoted the railroad crew as telling deputies that it would take a "hell of a lot of noise" from the city to make conductors end the practice.

"This shows contempt for the legitimate public safety concerns raised by the city," Nocco wrote. "The citizens of Dade City and Pasco County deserve better."

Tuesday's incident involved a 129-car freight train measuring more than a mile long that stopped for 90 minutes during the morning traffic rush, blocking all but one intersection to the city's east side.

It was the second time in five weeks that a CSX train stopped. On July 11, a train sat for five hours, finally moving about 6 p.m.

CSX representatives said the trains stopped because crews had reached the federally mandated limit of their work hours. In the railroad industry, it's referred to as "outlawing."

On Tuesday, CSX issued a statement apologizing for the "inconvenience."

It wasn't enough for Nocco.

The company's statement "shows an appalling lack of concern regarding this situation. This problem could have been avoided if trains were stopped just north of the city," Nocco wrote. "For CSX to act as if this was an unavoidable problem when it could have been avoided with just a few minutes of forethought or action demonstrates willful neglect of CSX's responsibilities."

A message left with CSX on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

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