Train blocks entrance to Franklin County neighborhood for more than 15 hours

Taking Action

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. — Wednesday, all seemed quiet on Robison Road in Franklin County, but on Tuesday, it was quite the “locomotion.”

An entire neighborhood became separated from the rest of the world because of a stalled train.

Carla Morris lives on Pace Road just off Robison Road, both of which have dead ends. She sent photos to News 19 showing vehicles stopped at the tracks with no way around.

The occasional train passing through is manageable but too often, she said trains will stall and block the only entrance and exit, causing issues when trying to get to school or work. It also impacts drivers trying to deliver feed to the chicken houses at the end of Robison Road.

Residents said Tuesday’s train was stopped for more than 15 hours. One of the main concerns residents have is if a train is stalled and someone has to call 911 and first responders can’t get through.

After speaking with Franklin County Commission Chairman Barry Moore, the question was then asked to Sheriff Shannon Oliver.

“It’s just a huge problem because this is the only one-way in and one way out. So it would be a huge undertaking to get here and get to somebody in a timely fashion,” Oliver said.

Sheriff Oliver said he contacted the train’s operating company, Norfolk Southern, “We talked to them on four different occasions yesterday and I personally talked to them the last time and the only answer they gave me is they do what they can do to get it expedited and get it moved.”

After speaking with the company, both Sheriff Oliver and Morris said the reason Norfolk Southern stopped the train was because the conductor was out of hours and needed to swap out with another.

Norfolk Southern responded to a News 19 request and released the following statement:

“We never want to inconvenience any member of the community with a blocked crossing. Due to mandatory rest periods, sometimes trains do have to make these unscheduled stops to comply with federal regulations and ensure the safe operation of a train. Our scheduling teams make every effort to minimize these impacts and we always prioritize getting and keeping trains moving safely. Rest assured, we partner with local first responders whenever needed in the event of an emergency.”

Norfolk Southern added that crew time-out periods are set by the Federal Railroad Administration and are non-negotiable. 

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