Peru drivers frustrated about increased train traffic

PERU, Ind. – Parked trains are causing a headache for drivers in Peru. Residents said they stop on the tracks and block the road for hours at a time.

Trains are nothing new to city. Tracks divide the north and south side. Some say the increased train traffic is making it harder to drive around town.

“If you just pull up to the tracks and a train is going by, people understand that,” said Gabriel Greer, Mayor of Peru. “Trains come and go.”

Mayor Greer said he’s getting a call every day from drivers because the trains are not just coming and going. He is hearing drivers are not able to cross over the tracks for four hours sometimes.

“I don’t ever plan on crossing the railroad tracks when I travel,” he said. “I plan on either going on the underpass or I just don’t plan on going that way.”

Mayor Greer said it adds about 10 minutes to his drive.

The transportation company Norfolk Southern said 200 employees live and work in Peru, making Peru a key location for the railroad. This is part of the statement they sent to FOX59:

Peru serves as a crew change location for locomotive engineers and conductors who operate trains over NS’ “D Line” mainline from Peru to Detroit and from Peru to Decatur, Ill. Because Peru is a crew change location, trains stop there throughout the day to switch out crews. Business volumes are at near record highs, so we have seen an increase in train traffic through Peru, in particular trains that are transporting automobiles and grain. This is good for Peru and local economies across Indiana.

Mayor Greer felt it is fantastic the company is helping the city’s economy. He also noted the parked trains are hurting local business, like Benton St. Bait and Tackle and Taxidermy, because customers are having a hard time getting there.

“Sales are down probably 60 percent in the last two years,” said Mike Gatliff, owner.

Gatliff felt it has gotten worse over the years. He’s now thinking about moving to another spot in Peru after being at this location for seven years.

“It takes a toll. It makes it harder to pay my bills. I lean towards outsourcing my work to where it used to come here,” he said.

Peru Fire said the parked trains have not affected their response time because the underpass in the city has never flooded too much. If the problem is not fixed, they hope Mother Nature stays on their side.

Norfolk Southern said they are committed to minimizing the amount of time that trains are stopped so motorists can use alternate crossings to pass over the tracks. The company said they have spoken to local officials in Peru about their concerns and are actively looking at things they can do to reduce any unfavorable impacts of their business operations in Peru.