Small town Sutersville, PA, with a population fewer than 600, has seen a heavy dosage of railroad crossing tragedies. The past 18 months have seen two tragic deaths and three other critical accidents which nearly resulted in death. The result, unsurprisingly, is a town eagerly fighting to get their railroad crossings protected. Nearby, the town of West Newton with a population of roughly 2,700 has not seen tragedies like this in some time. Sutersville residents point out that West Newton’s crossings are outfitted with safety equipment – lights and gates. In Sutersville, however, the crossings are unprotected, and the tragedies are mounting.
The small town has been voicing their complaints to CSX for nearly a decade about the lack of safety at the crossings. The small town simply doesn’t have to money to afford proper equipment, with its annual per capita income standing at about half the national average. Yet CSX refuses to pay.
Police have claimed that the high incident rate is all due to private property trespassing and recklessness on the tracks. Residents, on the other hand, repeatedly complain that the crossings are unsafe and that there are no private-property signs.
For such a small town, fighting a battle against a large railroad corporation – a battle, mind you, for protective equipment to save lives – is a challenging, often fruitless battle. If public outcry against such reprehensible policies as CSX’s current ones with Sutersville increases, the battle may become more fruitful. CSX has been making it clear that the body count alone is not enough to earn their interest. Financial gain has outweighed their commitment to protecting human lives.