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Homeless camp near Sacramento train tracks forces freight trains to stop

Sacramento neighbors raise safety concerns over homeless camps near train tracks
Sacramento neighbors raise safety concerns over homeless camps near train tracks 02:51

SACRAMENTO — Residents in Sacramento's Land Park and midtown areas are raising public safety concerns around a homeless encampment set up just feet from railroad tracks owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

It's become such a problem that residents say they've seen train conductors stop the train, get off and tell the homeless people to back up.

Residents living near the train tracks say the noise coming from the freight trains has increased significantly in recent weeks. Neighbors say they never noticed the trains and didn't pay them much attention – until now. An encampment is so close to the tracks that trains are forced to slow down, lay on the horn, or sometimes stop altogether

"Someone hops off with a flag and walks by to ensure the unhoused people's safety, basically. Can't have a train zooming by at normal speed with people 5 feet off the track," said concerned resident David Philipp.

Union Pacific trains are already loud, but they're even louder when traveling through the tracks near W and 20th streets in the Land Park area. That's because they're blasting the horn and screeching to a stop so as to not hit any of the homeless people living mere inches away from the tracks.

"Every time the train has to stop, it's blocking W, X and Broadway, and all the traffic that's trying to traverse those routes," said nearby resident and Land Park community advocate Stephanie Duncan. "And they're being held up. The trains are idling. People are needing to get to where they need to go."

"It stops ambulances. It stops fire engines. It stops police cars," Philipp said.

It's not just the blaring horns. Residents say they can also hear the clinking together of the train cars when the freight train has to come to a halt. You can imagine how loud and unsettling that is in the middle of the night.

"I put in 311 complaints. Several of us did. That's what we're told in sacramento is put in 311 complaints and we'll solve it. But i haven't even got a call back," Philipp said.

Union Pacific told CBS13 they haven't heard of any encampments in that particular area. The City of Sacramento said it's working with Union Pacific and Sacramento Regional Transit to ensure safety and resolve the issue.

"We just want to get back to normal. Let the trains flow. Let the traffic flow. Get people to a safe place," Duncan said.

Neighbors in the area wanted to make it very clear they are not anti-homeless. Rather, they are concerned for everyone's safety.

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