Atlanta neighbors say stalled trains keep them trapped for hours almost every week

ATLANTA — People who live in northwest Atlanta are taking on a major railroad corporation after they say trains are stuck on tracks for hours, blocking intersections.

Neighbors sent Channel 2′s Courtney Francisco videos of people going so far as to cross over or under the train to get to the bus stop on the other side to make it to work.

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“That’s dangerous,” said Robert Williams.

He’s lived in the Hunter Hills community for decades. Video shows him taking matters into his own hands and directing traffic when the train stalls at Chappell Road.

He and his neighbors gathered Thursday morning with State Rep. Mesha Mainor and City Council Member Byron Amos to call on the railroad company to produce better results.

They brought a list of times and dates the trains blocked intersections. The length of the trains that were parked varied from 45 minutes to 30 hours.

“They don’t care this is about money. They step on us,” said John Wright. “That’s what they doing, they’re stepping on us.”

By “they” he means CSX, a railroad corporation headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

Online, it says it earned $14.9 billion in revenue in 2022. That same year, residents started asking CSX to hire a person to help in Hunter Hills.

“It’s not just about traffic but access to emergency vehicles: fire trucks, police cars, ambulance,” said Tim Brown.

“Given the age of our community, seniors in our community, that’s my biggest concern,” Wright said.


A CSX spokesperson sent the following statement to Channel 2 Action News:

“We are aware of the challenges that exist in Hunter Hills and understand our responsibility to be good stewards of the communities through which we operate. CSX is committed to working with Rep. Mainor and we will continue to explore ways to keep lengthy crossing blockages from occurring while maintaining safe and efficient operations.”

Mainor said CSX has given her reasons for the blockages.

“The excuses that CSX has given us varies: superintendent is on vacation, it’s the weekend, we don’t have any workers to come in that area to break the trains apart, there was an accident somewhere else,” Mainor said.

Williams said he and his neighbors believe CSX is taking advantage of low-income, mostly minority neighborhoods.

“I’m frustrated and mad because they don’t do this in other neighborhoods,” said Williams.

Amos represents the district including Hunter Hills. He was in the crowd on Thursday.

“As a good neighbor, I think they should be willing to work with the city,” said Amos.

If they don’t produce noticeable results he said, “At that time is when the city calls on our state and federal partners to force them to the table.”

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