San Jose, Calif., considers taking Union Pacific to court over nighttime trains, other complaints

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — The city of San Jose is miffed at Union Pacific, complaining about train noise and other issues along the right-of-way,and is ready to go to court over its grievances.

Particularly at issue is nighttime operation of trains through downtown, which has increased in recent months as the railroad altered its operating plan, leading to complaints from nearby residents. Those complaints brought more than 100 residents to a Wednesday meeting, KTVU-TV reports, some holding signs demanding the railroad not run trains at night. They also have the city’s mayor and council threatening to sue the railroad.

At the meeting, the railroad said night operations, and the accompanying sounding of horns for grade crossings, will continue. "We are obligated to run trains at night — due to capacity during the day," Union Pacific representative Francisco Castillo said, according to KGO-TV.

“We’re not going to purposefully run an inefficient railroad,” spokesman Clint Schelbitzki said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The city is studying the possibility of installing the grade-crossing equipment necessary to make the area a horn-free quiet zone, but the study will not be done until the end of the year. Mayor Sam Liccardo thinks the railroad should pick up the tab, according to KTVU: “It’s clear to me that local taxpayers should not be subsidizing the business decisions of Union Pacific. If there's infrastructure here, Union Pacific ought to be paying for it.”

The issues of graffiti, trash, and homeless encampments led the city council’s rules committee to send to the full council a memo directing the city attorney to explore a lawsuit against the railroad, as well as possible rezoning of the railroad’s land. The mayor’s budget has allocated $500,000 to explore legal remedies.

The railroad, in a statement, said it looked forward to working with the city on broader plans addressing homelessness and is working on a memorandum of understanding with the city “that we believe will help mitigate transient encampment and illegal dumping concerns.” The railroad said it is identifying spots to add fencing and exploring other options.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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