When Dianne Peyton was in labor, the Norfolk Southern Railroad was not a friendly sight. The slow-moving train blocked her path to the hospital while it passed across the road and into the crew changing station in Manassas.
“It seemed like forever,” Peyton said. “My husband didn’t even think it was legal for a train to block the road that long.”
But Peyton made her way to the Maryland-area hospital in time to have her baby, and the Norfolk Southern changing station is moving just in time for residents like Peyton.
“I still get stuck there all the time,” she said. “That will really be nice.”
Crews will begin changing on Oct. 10 at the company’s new station in Bristow, according to Public Works Director Mike Moon.
In the past, trains have been crawling through Manassas at about 10 miles per hour in order to make a complete stop and allow crew changes at the Manassas station. Bob Logan, train master of the Washington area district, said the trains will be able to travel much faster through the city of Manassas once the changing station is located in Bristow. They will begin to decelerate and eventually stop once outside the city and in this more remote area.
“The plan is to alleviate some of the traffic and congestion in the Manassas area,” Logan said.
Norfolk Southern made this move after negotiations with city, county and state officials, and in an effort to improve relations with residents.
“We all just went to the table and figured out what we could do,” Logan said.
Aside from appeasing residents and officials, this move provides no benefit to Norfolk Southern, Logan said. If anything, it’s a disadvantage. The crews will be slightly inconvenienced by having to change at Bristow, instead of at the more centrally located Manassas site.
The company will also have to maintain two buildings, according to Logan, because some local operations will still continue in Manassas, while the long distance business will shift to Bristow.
Logan said the project wasn’t designed to benefit his company in any way. “It was set up to try to help the citizens,” he said.
But some residents aren’t happy about the move. Bristow resident Jeanne Chartier worries about wildlife in her area and said she was sick of the trains.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Chartier said. “You come out to Bristow so you have some peace and quiet. You leave Manassas and Fairfax because it’s a mess, and this is going to turn out to be the same thing.”