Issue 479 November 1, 2004
Last week, 150 members of the "Coalition to Stop the Train," a Union County group, rallied in Springfield to express anger at county Freeholders for agreeing to allow rail freight lines to be reactivated along the Rahway Valley and Staten Island Lines, according to the Star-Ledger.
The Erie Railroad is planning to resume service on the Rahway line from Cranford to Summit. The Staten Island line from Cranford to Linden may also be ready by year’s end.
Some citizens and local governments are upset over the prospect of a small number of trains running on tracks that have been unused for a decade. No more than three trains a week will use the lines during the first two years of operation and between three and five times a week in the third year. New Jersey anti-rail protests invariably raise the issue of trash trains, though the short lines are more likely to serve heavy industrial customers. In any case, improvements to modern freight cars have made it impossible to tell the difference between a car carrying garbage and one carrying a consumer goods.
With the expected boom in truck traffic in the next twenty years, a vibrant rail system will save New Jersey, and Union County, from thousands of additional trucks plying New Jersey’s roads and highways. The effect of a few rail cars per week in these neighborhoods will be minor compared to trucks’ impact on air quality, road safety, and public health.
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