The people at CSX Transportation need a new watch. Twice in the past six weeks, crews stopped freight trains on tracks in Dade City, blocking traffic and public safety access to the east side neighborhoods, an industrial park and a school in the city of 6,500 people. The reason? CSX employees had reached the end of their 12-hour shifts and were prohibited by federal law from staying on the clock.
The company should be embarrassed by its abysmal time-management skills and its inability to rotate crews in less obstructive locations. On July 11, a train, minus its crew, idled for five hours in Dade City, forcing police officers and sheriff's deputies to remain there to discourage pedestrians from climbing over train cars to leave their neighborhood. Tuesday morning, the scene was repeated when a 1.5-mile-long, 129-car train stopped for 90 minutes. At least the crew hung around this time, but police had to direct school-bound traffic through side streets to an unobstructed intersection.
CSX issued a tone-deaf response, promising to conduct a "full analysis to determine what operational adjustments can be made going forward.'' That brought a rebuke from Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, who categorized the CSX road blockages as "willful neglect.'' The company put its bottom line before a community's public safety concerns.