City has seen sharp drop in train traffic since 1998 agreement with Norfolk Southern

A school student waits as train passes at the Nicholson Avenue railroad crossing on February 1.

A school student waits as a train passes at the Nicholson Avenue railroad crossing.

A train rolled through the set of railroad tracks north of Detroit Avenue, known as the Nickel Plate line, on 178 separate occasions during the final three months of 2012, according to the latest data available from Norfolk Southern Corporation.

Taken all together it may seem like a lot of train traffic, but a closer look at the numbers shows a daily average of just two trains.

At least one train traveled across the rails each day with the exception of a couple of days around Christmas and then again for two days in early November when the tracks were silent.


Daily Norfolk Southern train traffic from October through December 2012. Click on the image for a larger view.

The highest number of trains to pass by in a single day was five. It happened on three separate occasions, each time on a Thursday or Friday, which tended to be the busiest days of the week.

Believe it or not, the daily average was much higher prior to 1998 when Norfolk Southern Corp. signed a memorandum of agreement with Lakewood, Bay Village, and Rocky River to cap train traffic at no more than an average of 13.9 daily.

Prior to the agreement, an average of 34 locomotives rumbled across the line each day. Norfolk Southern was able to accomplish the reduction by moving much of the traffic to its Chicago line, located south of Birdtown.

Ward 2 Councilperson Thomas Bullock a couple of years ago hosted a Public Works Committee meetings that focused on rail issues. The primary gripes concerned high decibel train horns and herbicide discharges.

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