Town Council Meeting

At the Town Council meeting on January 19th I plan to say a few words to do with the High Speed Rail project and its impact on the town. I have already submitted a letter to Council (screen shot below). The purpose of the letter and presentation is to encourage Council to energetically oppose the concept of having a third track running through the center of town.Sutton-Council-Letter-1-1Sutton-Council-Letter-1-2


4 thoughts on “Town Council Meeting

    1. The DC2RVA people already are aware that they are NOT going to be able to put a third track through Ashland, both from a practical and aesthetic perspective. The most likely scenario will be the status quo with improvements to the platform to allow for access by persons with disabilities. There is an outside chance that a westerly bypass for high speed rail and freight might be feasible, but as with everything else involved in this project, money would have to be found–lots of it. Regional Amtrak trains would continue to use the existing tracks and serve Ashland. We would benefit because travel times would be shortened due to improvements made all along the Richmond-Washington corridor, and there would be increased frequencies.

      Whether there are two tracks or twenty on which trains pass through Ashland, there is, and has always been the specter of danger. If you will check your history, you will discover that there have been at least trespasser deaths in Ashland in my lifetime. Those long CSX freight trains daily carry a variety of commodities that are corrosive, explosive and hazardous. It has been through the continuing partnership between the railroads and the town that have kept Ashland as safe as possible because of determined efforts to properly maintain the track structure and grade crossing equipment that additionally do not require to blow their horns when passing through, except whe it has been reported that a warning device is malfunctioning. The process then errs on the side of safety, even though the sounding of horns may be annoying until a repair is made.

      Whether higher speed rail ever materializes or not, we have now, and always have and will in the future, face the same safety issues, and unfortunately the level is heightened by such things as motorists who impatiently drive carelessly onto the tracks in front of trains, or become stuck, or trespassing photographers, who set up their cameras in the middle of the tracks to shoot wedding and graduation pictures in defiance of Virginia law. Having to put a train into emergency braking to avoid them–either freight or passenger–always comes with the risk that a derailment could occur.

      Since 1834, Ashland has had trains passing through the middle of town. The convenience, the commerce and the safety we have always enjoyed rests on dialogue and cooperation between reasonable people. I hope this continues.


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