The Jacksonville, Fla.-based rail company operates a pair of lines that bisect the 19th Ward, including the Blue Island Spur Line that runs parallel with Rockwell Street. And on Feb. 8, 2013, CSX bought the Elsdon Rail Line that runs parallel to Sacramento Avenue.
Since this purchase, residents have complained about long delays at crossings, often caused by trains stopped on the tracks. CSX had promised to break apart trains in the event of such delays lasting longer than 10 minutes.
But that isn't happening, according to a decision handed down Oct. 7 by the Surface Transportation Board. In fact, CSX promised such delays would be rare when it applied to buy the Elsdon line in 2012.
So after CSX seemingly broke its word, the board Friday issued a decision requiring the railroad to participate in a "technical conference" with O'Shea, Cunningham and its own top brass to discuss:
• How CSX will ensure that the Elsdon line is clear before sending any trains along the rails
• Methods for handling and repairing malfunctioning gates
• CSX's agreements with other railroads it allows to operate on the line
• The reasons behind CSX's refusal to break trains apart, as promised, when blocking a crossing for more than 10 minutes
• The overall plan and timeline for improving operations on the Elsdon line
The meeting follows an effort that dates back to February in which O'Shea, Cunningham and other local officials — including those in neighboring Evergreen Park — sought to hold CSX accountable for its lax operation of the Elsdon line.
The group successfully petitioned the transportation board to extend CSX's mandatory reporting period that was set to expire. Among the biggest concerns is trains stopped on the tracks, restricting access to Little Company of Mary Hospital and Advocate Christ Medical Center.
In an email to constituents last week, O'Shea said the transportation board's ruling, "exposes CSX as the bad operator we have long known them to be."
"Moving forward, I will continue to advocate for operational changes on the Elsdon Line that would improve both quality of life and public safety in our community. In addition, I will seek fines and any penalties available. It is my hope that these actions will force CSX to operate in a more honest and responsible manner," O'Shea said.
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