Monday, December 8, 2014

Taking the Side of the Train

Stop this train 
I want to get off and go home again 
I can't take the speed it's moving in 
I know I can't but honestly won't someone stop this train
Those lyrics by John Mayer are probable not exactly what the people of Enderlin in North Dakota were thinking when they felt the need to ban trains from taking breaks longer than 10 minutes in their city limits.  This has caused Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. to sue the town according to a report from Reuters.
Partly thanks to North Dakota's energy boom, twenty-eight of the railroad's trains now traverse the city every day. Each carry hundreds of tank cars filled with oil or grain. Some idle as long as four hours, inconveniencing motorists, stranding pedestrians and posing logistical challenges for ambulances and firefighters. 
Desperate for a solution, Enderlin's city councilors last month banned train breaks longer than 10 minutes. The railroad has, in turn, sued the city of nearly 900 in federal court. Canadian Pacific contends the order violates interstate commerce laws. The railroad's lawyers also asked a judge to grant a temporary injunction. 
It appears that this is a classic battle of business desires trumping human safety.  I would guess that business will win out in the battle.  The claim is simple.  A town can not regulate the rail line that is for interstate commerce.  That is the Feds job.

The only problem is when the train sits and sits in the town, it prevents first responders from getting to an emergency on the other side.  

Fighting back, Enderlin said in its own court filings that human safety should trump any financial harm to the company. It's not clear how much Enderlin is spending to defend itself, and city officials did not have data readily available. But Canadian Pacific has asked for the city to pay the railroad's legal fees should it prevail. 
Still, it's a fight Enderlin seems happy to pursue. 
As Scott DeFehr, who has lived in Enderlin for 14 years, wrote in a letter to the court, the city has residents "whose safety and very lives are threatened by the blocking of rail crossings."
It is time to stop caving into oil's needs when weighed against the rights and safety of people.

No comments:

Post a Comment