The Coastal Star

Letter to the Editor: Trains have become an unbearable nuisance

In many European cities, crossing gates keep people from walking in front of trains. Almay photo

I consider myself to be a very tolerant and easygoing person, but living by the railroad tracks in Delray Beach has become unbearable. 

First, it should be part of Urban Planning 101 that you do not have a freight train and an express passenger train pass right through the center of our beautiful downtown, where people live and go out in the evening to enjoy themselves. 

If public officials really cared about the design of our urban environment, they would have used eminent domain to move the freight train and Brightline to the Tri-Rail tracks along I-95. 

Anyway, this letter is not supposed to be about that, because that would make too much sense and, with big business in the picture, it is not likely to happen.

Therefore, let us deal with the problem at hand, which is twofold.

First, people are being killed by Brightline! 

Second, those of us who live near the railroad tracks —  probably hundreds of thousands of people if you factor in every city in southeast Florida — are having our lives disturbed by being woken up eight to 10 times a night by trains that continually blast their horns throughout the night. 

What’s so frustrating to me is that finding a solution should not be difficult. In Germany and the United Kingdom, for many years they have had such trains, and nowhere do the trains blast their horns. Yes, their gates are better and practically impossible to get through. 

As you can see in the photo, it is possible to make the gates in such a way that you cannot crawl under them or sneak your bicycle through.

There should obviously also be a wall or fence along the tracks so that no one can walk around the gates. 

Now as far as the train horn goes, it really serves no purpose because any person who is not severely hearing-impaired hears the bells from the gates as they are closing.

The bottom line is, it is time for city officials to show some urgency!

Lars Heldre 

Delray Beach

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The Florida East Coast Railroad was hauling freight along these tracks many years before Delray Beach became developed to anywhere near the extent that it is now. The horns sound by law before each crossing. If we left it to people on the street to pay attention and actually look for the train that thet could see coming but not yet hear, there would be many more statistics.  Freight trains have become more numerous as population and the economy increases just like road traffic has and now in an effort to relieve some of our traffic problems passenger trains are in the mix after years of planning. People are not getting killed by trains at this rate in other parts of the country or world even where train traffic is heavy. Stupidity, innatention and daring are factors in almost all of these accidents. It's not the train's fault. As for Delray Beach, the city, in the past several years has chosen to overdevelop and pack every parcel right up to railbed and now people are upset.

We live next to the MBTA tracks in Massachusetts where a child was tragically killed riding a bike while wearing headphones 10 years ago. The blaring horns started 20x a day and the neighbors became so upset they started to protest and solicit the politicians. Finally, the governor stopped the noise on the grounds that it was a public nuisance and the good people of the Commonwealth should not suffer because of the irresponsible behavior of one person. Even the deceased child's parents agreed it was not the fault of the train. Since then there have been a couple more deaths by suicide, but fortunately we do not live in a"nanny state" and we can sleep soundly at night. 

In urban environments all around the world, trains often pass through residential areas, and local officials, residents and transportation companies have had to find solutions on how to coexist. I agree with the writer in that such a brutal ignorance of the needs of the residents’ wellbeing is on an extraordinary level here in the Southeast Florida. To wake up several times at night is in fact torture.

As the writer states, the solution is quite simple. If you look around this country, there are fences everywhere! The train tracks along the residential areas could be fenced and gated so that no-one can unintentionally drive or walk on the tracks. I agree with the writer that it is time for the local officials and residents to act.

Riitta Rinttila

Delray Beach

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