I loved the house before I even saw it. Adore it. I love the area, the vibe, and the street art. The food is unbeatable. A dog park is close by.
But so is a train line.
I knew this moving in. I had done research to understand the trains, their impact on daily lives of residents. It seemed to be a mixed bag of residents who were used to it and residents who wanted to see change.
I went to the house many times before moving in. Only one time a train passed but it was one of the quieter ones with a respectful conductor. It seemed alright, livable.
Nothing compared to that first night in my brand new, beautiful home I dreamed of. At 2:00 AM, the trains started. They weren’t the same conductor from before the sale, but conductors that seemed spiteful they were working while I was sleeping. They’d hang on to the horn, full blast, for the entire duration of passing all of the streets, never letting up.
Then there was another. And another. What have I done?
Conductors taking advantage of residents
I learned conductors have their rules, decibel levels. Since the railroads govern themselves, there is no repercussion for the treatment of residents. There’s nothing to tell a conductor not to purchase a multi-tone train horn over 150 decibels. Krakatoa was recorded at 180 decibels, the highest ever recorded in history.
I learned there are some areas where the quiet zones are approved but the railroads won’t put up that “no horn” sign for reasons unknown to anyone.
The blockages are worse
Some residents will be trapped. First responders cannot get to those in need. Children have to climb through a train to get to school.
Once children are crawling through and under trains, I knew the railroads didn’t care about being good stewards to the residents. My thoughts were solidified when Houston Fire Department Chief Peña noted in 2021 there were nearly 1400 incidents of blocked trains stopping first responders from getting the attention they need. Mr. Richard Zientek of Union Pacific all but shrugged. Though it is his job to be a sounding board, not really do anything substantial.
So what now?
Life in the East End is changing for the better. Development continues. Homes are being restored. Families are coming in. The East River development will be a game changer.
The trains don’t want to change with the area. Constantly citing “the trains were here first” with no consideration for how areas need to evolve – including trains. For what it is worth, many homes in the area were here before the trains.
We need to let the railroads know we won’t have it anymore. We are done letting them railroad us (pun intended) into submission with no relief.