SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose is threatening to sue Union Pacific railroad over the train company’s refusal to cut down on late night train activity in the Japantown neighborhood.
Union Pacific says it runs two daytime and two nighttime trains through that part of the city. But neighbors say the trains often blast their horns at 2 or 3 in the morning and they can’t get any sleep.
“It blasts you out of your bed,” said Patrick Schuck, a neighbor who lives near the tracks on East Taylor Street.
Schuck and other neighbors accused train operators of blaring extra long honks Wednesday night. Some called them retaliatory honks for a testy meeting between the community and Union Pacific earlier in the evening.
“It was way beyond normal, I think it might have been a little hey, we heard about the meeting, here come the horns,” Schuck said.
At the meeting, it was neighbors sounding off to a Union Pacific official who tried to explain that the train company is using a new operational plan for rail efficiency, but downplayed the impact.
“We were running the same amount of trains in 2000 that we are actually running now, at night,” said Union Pacific spokesman Francisco Castillo. That statement caused an uproar.
Some neighbors accused him of lying, saying the number of overnight trains began spiking on the line through Japantown ever since the plan went into effect in February.
Mayor Sam Liccardo was more diplomatic but just as angry, rising out of his seat and pointing his finger. “Don’t mislead the public,” Liccardo said.
Later, Mayor Liccardo said Union Pacific’s claim that it’s running the same number of night trains was mixing up two rail lines in different parts of downtown.
“That’s the kind of thing that you have to be very clear about and Union Pacific has to know, that we’re going to insist on the truth,” Liccardo said.
Union Pacific says train operators required by law to sound their horns when they come to road crossings or see people on the tracks. And some neighbors, who have long lived here, accept the noise.
“People complain about the horn, but it’s normal. You live near a train track,” said Roberto R, who was jogging through the neighborhood.
Union Pacific says it’s planning no changes. San Jose is looking into filing a lawsuit or other legal action to quiet the trains.
“They have their rules, but there are more residents here now than before, maybe there’s a happy medium somewhere along the line,” Mr. Schuck said.
Union Pacific spokesman Tim McMahan said trains that move through Japantown service a number of freight customers, connecting them to the railroad’s national network for both domestic and international markets.