Monday, March 5, 2012

Winchester MA Residents Discuss Pan Am Freight Train Stops


Even with the snow, Winchester residents showed up in force Thursday night at Town Hall to discuss the freight trains that are stopping the their neighborhood.

According to Winchester resident Susan Busher, a railroad switch has been established by the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR) at Cross Street at the request of Tighe Trucking, Inc. A railroad siding was also installed, allowing freight trains to come off the commuter rail for the delivery to the backside of Tighe Trucking at 45 Holton Street.

Cynthia Scarano Executive Vice President of Pan Am Railways attended the meeting and informed residents that there is little her company can do because they are a common carrier.

“We’re obligated to deliver to them because we’re a common carrier,” Scarano said. “The customer contacted us and wanted to make deliveries in that area.”

According to Scarano, the freight trains have to be delivered between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. to avoid running into the commuter rail, which takes precedence.

“We have a 10-hour window along the Lowell branch to make all our deliveries,” Scarano said.
State Rep. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), who also attended the meeting said that Tighe Trucking wants to use the option of a freight train service as a way to increase the value of the property.

“He looks at it as a way to grow his business,” Lewis said. “He has the right to offer freight service, as a way to market his property.”

Representatives from Tighe Trucking did not attend the meeting.

Winchester resident, Susan Busher, said that the rail service has been inactive for a number of years.
“It has empty for decades,” Busher said. “Residential growth was encouraged, an entire street was built. People didn’t buy into this neighborhood knowing there was going to be freight train service.

“The values of the homes goes down. If you have to move, you can’t sell your property. Besides the quality of life that will suffer, there’s a real vested interest for the residents. For most of us, this is the largest investment we have and it’s not something that you can change easily.”

According to Scarano, those tracks along Holton Street, while they were inactive for a number of years, were not abandoned. In order to abandon a line Pan Am would need to acquire a waiver from the Surface Transportation Board.

Melanie Carden just wanted to know if she could get a full night’s sleep. According to Carden, more than a few times her and her husband have been woken up in the middle of the night due to a train horn, while the freight trains were making their stop.

“We bought our house four years ago and we didn’t sign up for this,” Carden said. “I’m not going to tolerate this. I won’t have it; we’ll move wherever – out of town. We deserve eight hours of sleep a night.”
Scarano said that she can look into the middle of the night train horn, and Town Manager Richard Howard suggested sound barriers to potentially limit the noise. Scarano informed the residents that she had never seen sound barriers used before.

“It would be nice to break the mold and do something nice for a well-established neighborhood,” Howard said.

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