Union Pacific Railroad addresses the ongoing safety issue of blocked trains in the Houston area

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Houston-area residents have expressed concern for years about stopped trains blocking major roads. Union Pacific Railroad representatives met with the Houston City Council to see what could be done to address the issue.

Train delays or stops blocking major roads have become an ongoing problem throughout the Houston area and in Houston’s East End. Local business owner Jose Benitez told ABC13 he sees the impact on people and businesses on a daily basis.

“It generates a lot of traffic,” says Benitez. “People can’t go anywhere. It could be 20 minutes, it could be 30 minutes, sometimes it could be 45 minutes. That’s a big deal.”

SEE ALSO: Rural Polk County town pushes Union Pacific to act after baby’s life was lost

On Thursday, the Houston City Council held a special committee meeting with Union Pacific Railroad. Resident, business owner and Samuel Pena of the Houston Fire Department stepped onto the podium and shared how stopped trains are becoming a dangerous problem.

“It was frustrating for our fire brigade,” Pena said. “We try to get to the scene as quickly as possible, but a lot of times we can’t predict when the train will block the most direct approach.”

SEE ALSO: Residents fed up with trains blocking New Caney

In previous years, the Houston Fire Department reported about 900 incidents where trains were stopped that affected crews’ emergency response, Pena said. In 2021, Pena said the HFD had reported more than 1,300 incidents.

“To be a good neighbor,” says Pena. “We have to discuss with the rail industry and figure out how we’re going to move forward appropriately.”

13 Investigators: First responders delayed after train blocked intersection east of Houston

Clint Schelbitzki, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs at Union Pacific Railroad, said supply chain disruptions and increased transit demand during the pandemic are likely to play a role play some role in increasing incidents when trains are stopped blocking intersections.

“Some of what we were doing when Union Pacific Railroad was investing,” Schelbitzki said. “We’ve invested tens of millions of dollars in our stations here so we can speed up train traffic in and out of the city, which will help reduce congested crossings and improve the situation.” after hours is much better.”

Schelbitzki said he encourages people to report a stopped train to the transportation company by calling 1-888-877-7267.

Our team of 13 Investigators have been tracking complaints about train stops on the tracks for many years. In 2021, claims against TxDOT increased by 90% statewide, but more so in the city of Houston. Claims in the city nearly doubled from 64 in the first five months of 2020 to 127 during the same time last year. Over 90% of it is on Union Pacific trains.

One said they had to sit every 5 hours and another time park their car half a mile from home and then walk.

“A stopped train benefits no one,” says Schelbitzki. “It doesn’t benefit the city, the people, the businesses. It doesn’t benefit the Union Pacific Railroad. It doesn’t benefit our customers, so we want the trains to move. We want them to. works dynamically throughout the system and so we’re going to work on it for all of those reasons.”

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Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. Copyright Registered. Union Pacific Railroad addresses the ongoing safety issue of blocked trains in the Houston area

Dais Johnston

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