SHOCKING: Conrail Engineer Close to Quitting Job over Dangers Posed When Passing Through Lakewood

conrail train tracks lkwdNOTE: The following information was submitted by TLS by a reader and witness of the incidents. TLS has also submitted the letter to the BOE to distribute to the local public and non-public schools to ensure this issue is taken seriously by parents and teachers.

Dear readers,
I would like to share with you an occurrence I witnessed last week that I feel strongly defies what we represent. What I’m referring to is what goes on during the weekly visit we have from what is known simply as ‘The Train’.

What I witnessed was as follows:

I was walking down Park Ave by the intersection of County Line when I started to hear the horn of the train from the distance. Suddenly, as if summoned by some hidden force, close to one hundred kids started to appear from all sides. The first thing I noticed was that there were a whole bunch of kids, some who looked to be as young as 5 years old, who ran or rode their bikes on the tracks right in front of the train as if to escort it into town. No elaboration is needed to describe the danger involved in doing this. The kids actually did this all along as far as I was able to see by each intersection as the train proceeded along Park ave and continued into town.

The next very disturbing thing I saw was that the kids started spreading rocks and stones from the rail bed onto the actual tracks to see them get crushed as the train rode over them. Again there is no need to elaborate on the danger this can cause.

The next thing I saw really shocked me.

As most have heard or noticed, the intersection of County Line Rd and Park Ave was recently equipped with new gates to block the road as the train passes through the intersection. During the short pause (definitely lengthened by the procession of kids) not less then 3 cars went around the gate and crossed the tracks. The last car almost collided with the train and had to back up after making a shortstop right on the tracks. I then noticed some kids throwing rocks and pieces of wood at the train as it went by.

A short while later I met up with the Engineer and the Conductor of the train and was able to hear their perspective on this weekly occurrence.

The Engineer unsurprisingly had some very strong words to say to us. He stated as follows:

He has been driving trains for over 25 years and has been doing this run from Seyerville NJ to Lakewood for the past couple of years. (Just as a side note, a lot if the lumber used to build the houses in Lakewood, are delivered through this run.)
He said that what I witnessed happens every Thursday in the summer as he passes through Lakewood. He told me that from all the towns and cities that he passes through, Lakewood is the only one where the kids do this and the only town where cars jump the track. He also said that in all his career he has never seen cars pass through a closed gate until this past week in Lakewood. He said that the danger he faces when passing through Lakewood to himself and the children makes him question his job, and he’s close to quitting.

He went on to explain that besides for the damage to the rail company’s property, the stones laid down along the track pose a danger to himself and the children as there exists the possibility of the train derailing. I do not need to go into detail about what can happen in such a situation. He continued to say that as the train pulverizes the stones, the fragments of rock that shoot out can be going as fast as a bullet and can pierce right though anyone standing close by. He also said that a train takes a lot more time to stop than a car does, and this poses great danger to kids who run and ride in front of him if they were to fall. He went on to say that he constantly sees adults just standing by and not saying anything as all this happens, greatly adding to his frustration.

I’ll quote a question he asked me during our conversation:

Do we need a child to get killed in order for the parents to stop them from doing these things?

I am writing this letter to hopefully stop the problem in it’s tracks, so to say, before that can happen.

It is situations like these that at times make us looked down upon by our neighbors.

Parents, please tell your children that it’s fine to stand and watch the train go by, but anything that may be a danger they may not do. It is YOUR responsibility to teach your children how they must act.

Name withheld

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  1. The kids have ZERO respect for anything or anyone. Their parents can’t control them nor have a real interest in what they are doing. I work downtown and I have seen kids on Park Ave trying to get into the mail truck, throw rocks at the truck and even try and jump on the back while the truck is moving!!!! And there is NEVER a parent anywhere near them. Sadly, one day a child is going to run hit by this train. And who’s fault will it be??

  2. people are dumb enough to ignore the gates, why is anyone surprised that their kids are just as dumb?

    if a kid dies, it will be Conrail’s fault. why should anyone take personal responsibility? sorry, sad but true.

  3. They complained about the train tracks not being protected now they are and some of those same people are going around the gates because they feel it is not that important..That train has come through this town for nearly 3 decades and now it is being threatened by those that defy the law and kids that put themselves in danger when they run on the rails. What will it take? When will everyone learn? Trains do not stop on a dime..heck it may be a quarter mile to slow down. You want to build homes here ..that train can carry more than 10 truck loads of lumber. Remember Safety First!!!

  4. I agree I live near the tracks & see theses kids doing it all the time. These parents are irresponsible & should put there children up for adoption if they allow this to happen.

  5. I fully agree wit the writer & I feel the police Department shud b there for 1 or 2 weeks as the train comes & issue summons to anyone doing such behavior weather a pedestrian or vechile & u hope the word will get out & ppl will start using some brains!!!!!

  6. This happens and more , my sister had to call the police a few weeks ago as she drove through witnessing the kids , placing rocks ,throwing rocks and more scary actually climbing on the train as it drove by on East 7th and park Avenue.

  7. I think the TLS should not print anonymous letters. What is the writer ashamed of? There is no accountability or way to check if it is true at all if people won’t put a name on their statements.

  8. How can parents not teach their children about train safety? Especially if the train runs threw their town? And throwing rocks at any train car or mail truck is vandlelism and against the law.

  9. Something doesn’t add up with this story. a) how did you manage to witness what happened at ALL those stops? – were you following it along on the tracks? b) How did you “meet up with the engineer &conductor”? -Did they come out of the train to have a conversation with you? Or did you jump in between the lumber? c) Only the public and non-public schools of Lakewood are problematic? Is Camden, Trenton, Jersey City and Newark safer? How about Harlem & Baltimore? There is definitely room for improvement here, but this story sounds either exaggerated or fabricated.

  10. Why is David asking so many questions? The sad part is that it is dangerous and where are the parents?????? Why do we need the police for this. It is the parents responsibility to watch their kids. Are we waiting for something to happen to a child and then there is a big law suit and all I done?????????

  11. solutions:
    1.) cars go on tracks around safety devices? no problem. Impound the car for 1 week and second time suspend the license. FORCE people to behave on the road.
    2.) kids don’t behave with the train? manditory saftey course for the kids given in a lakewood public school setting ONLY.
    Gurentee things will change quickly. Police are here to maintaine lwa and order. If necissary by force. These behaviors are inexcusable. I have heard reports of this nonsense going on from kids that witnessed it (i.e. not from this website)

  12. By Author:
    @Jack @David The train drops off a load every Thursday at Woodhaved Lumber co. You can meet the engineer behind NPGS James any Thursday between 8 and 11:30 although I don’t recommend it because its trespassing.

    @OOTer I think the anonymity of the letter is obvious.

    @David The train starts in Sayerville NJ and ends in Lakewood and does not pass any of the cities you mentioned. As for those cities you will have to contact their locals.

  13. I would like to raise an issue. I have lived on the tracks for 18 years. For the past several months when the train comes by very late at night. We are talking about 11:30 or later the engineer honks extremely loud non stop around 7th and park when it is obvious that no one is around even after just passing the intersection or on holidays when no one is even driving, he will honk non stop. So maybe someone else on their side is not being so nice. It is really really nasty

  14. In the know….why train safety classes in a public schools only?? I believe if it’s a Lakewood kid problem it should be in both private and public schools. All children would benefit from learning safety don’t you agree??

  15. Wow, this is sad and frightening at the same time. Reading the above letter, shook me as a parent. Sadly, many people are motivated after tragedy strikes.

    Perhaps we should put equal focus on ensuring that the train doesn’t go off the derech C”V.

    Thanks to the author for respectfully putting this unsettling reality on ‘paper’.

  16. This story 100% true. I had a visitor over this last Thursday night and he was horrified by the scene he saw by the park ave/county line crossing and every detail in this article is what he told over to me

  17. While I agree that this situation needs to be addressed immediately, the undercurrent of hostility in some of the comments are equally shocking. The train run is once a week on Thursday evenings. The Lpd needs to be there to enforce the law. If a few fines are given out each week, it won’t happen as often. Keep in mind that there are many many more children in Lakewood than any other town that train runs through….

  18. #21 – the intent would be for all kids but the point is that part of the consequence for any kids from the nonpublic sector would be that they do not get the easier option of having such sessions in their own nonpublic schools

  19. Lakewood Shomrim– Stand there with a video camera, and record what’s happening. Bring the video to the parents, and tell them if it happens again, you will publicize the videos together with the names of the children. That will end it.

  20. Just to put a different prospective in this story .
    I’m an equally shocked and disturbed.
    I definitely will print this letter and distribute to my students tomorrow .
    This type of behavior is clearly unacceptable and it’s incumbent on the parents to put a stop to it .

    However , a little about Lakewood Children.
    For the most part, the Lakewood children are sweet and innocent .
    They are not exposed to TV movies radio internet and the like
    Most children occupy their time playing , riding they’re bikes or just enjoying the great outdoors . Lakewood kids are curious and get excited over the smallest things , a dog passing by , a helicopter , fire engine and yes even a train.
    I remember as a kid the excitement we had when we left a penny on the train tracks and watch it turn flat . It was so cool for us .
    I honestly think these young kids have no idea how dangerous the trains are or the shooting rocks

    Also not too bash the builders ( although it is lots of fun, what the heck are they doin building these type of communities so close to the tracks
    I mean kids are kids
    And to the operator , I sincerely appoligize on behalf of our people , this is not what we stand for and I sympathize with your frustration

    Sent using ShareThis

    Sent from my iPhone

  21. Hey oooter. Firstly I dont see your identity. 2nd ,why do you need to know every source of info you read?. Do you not believe anything you read?
    I bet if an anonymous letter was written about a very positive thing in the lakewood community you wouldnt ask for the source, now would you? Ooter you cant have it both ways. You are free to believe or keep your head in the sand and make believe you dont know about itbecause the truth hurts when it gets exposed.

  22. the conductor should call the cops, why would he let this behavior slide? all it will take is one visit from the police to end the problem. I do agree with a previous poster about the loud horn late at night being unnecessary. I actually thought the conductor must be blaring at cars trying to cross the tracks in front of him, but it happens weekly so it is more likely that he’s being a nuisance…

  23. to megan:
    I am not saying it is only a public schools kid problem, what I am saying is if there are any private school kis that are involved, they should be forced to attend safety claasses in a public school. the logic is two fold
    a.) their parents have chosen not to send to the public school because they don’t want the environment, with this possibility it will force the parents to get involved and put a stop to this
    b.) the kids will not be comfertable with such a set up either and will think twice before doing such things as they will no longer have their group support and their comfort zone.
    its called shock treatment. shock them back to their senses to behave. they cannot be allowed to get away with this type of behaivior. This is a emergency that calls for drastic action. This is not a religious issue , or a social justice issue, this is a public safety issue and in my opinion it must be dealt with very strongly, full force.

  24. @bassi: no, I do not believe anything I read if there is no verifiable source. I can definitely imagine such things happening in Lakewood – both the kids on the tracks and the drivers trying to beat out the guardrail – but I think the author loses credibility when he doesn’t print his name.

    Can he give a valid reason for not using his name? I’m sorry, but his “I think the anonymity of the letter is obvious” is not a valid reason. It’s definitely not obvious to me.

  25. Last week I was driving through a town in upstate NY and witnessed multiple cars cutting through the gates blocking a road for a passing train. This happens in other places as well. Obviously this doesn’t make it more right but let’s not fool ourselves that this only happens in lakewood.

    One of the reasons this happens is because children are constantly “fooling” the system to think that a train is coming (I used to do this as a child as well- it’s a lot of fun) when there’s no train approaching at all. This causes the lights to blink and the gates to close, clogging traffic.

    So who’s to blame here? Well it’s the kids’ parents again, isn’t it? Or is the police for not responding to calls about this type of activity despite the traffic congestion that it cause (I’ve called multiple times to no avail – as a matter of fact the police dispatcher told me to ignore the blinking lights and drive over the tracks.) Perhaps it’s the train companies for not installing a better system? Or we can blame it on Lakewood… It’s your choice.

  26. Someone will definitely get hurt, it’s inevitable. Maybe then people will wake up and realize how dangerous playing with the train actually is.

  27. I live within a few blocks of the tracks and unfortunately the events described above as described are common knowledge – the police have been called on several occasions when the nuisance level was particularly bad

  28. By law they have to blow the horn no matter the time of day. In order to comply with federal regulations they have to sound the horn when approaching public highways. It has NOTHING to do with the conductor being obnoxious. This is true all over the country not only in our area. This is the federal law if you’d like to read it, 49 CFR Part 222, known as The Train Horn Rule (in short it states “locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of all public grade crossings”).
    Contact your Congressman if you don’t like it, they are the ones that put it into effect.

  29. you want to put a stop to this despicable behavior? arrest the kids! maybe once in for all it will teach kids an important lesson!
    i agree with number 27 that for the most part Lakewood children are sweet and innocent and mean no harm. however in this case i highly doubt that these kids don’t realize the danger involved. ( i mean honestly, this is ABC in safety) yes, unfortunately, though it is probably few and far between, there are some kids i this town who have absolutely no respect or regard for any authority in any shape or form!
    it is horrible that it has come to the point where it is being referred to as “Lakewood Kids”…….lets put a stop to it before it becomes less than “few and far between”!!!

  30. It is a huge weekly entertainment event. It is exciting for the kids and parents. This is their reality TV & unfortunately it has gotten crazy. Maybe LCSW should monitor the situation. Although this stuff is nothing new but could still cause a fatality. The engineer possibly is just ready to retire after 25 years, and just needs a reason to do so.

  31. I think kids, especially boys like to have fun, test their abilities, try out dangerous things, e.g. riding a bike with no hands. In this case it’s similar. That’s why they need supervision. Even if a mother isn’t outside all the time with her kids, especially in a group, the mothers need to take turns checking on them, and sternly disciplining them.

  32. it’s because of people like these that create animosity between our surrounding neighbors. generally, a company that is on the receiving end of such a grave danger to life and property willdo their utmost to prevent any dangerous incidents from occurring. as we all know, these trains that run through Lakewood are delivering lumber to build our own homes. if that service was to stop,prices of houses would probably double, due to the fact that the equipment will have to report and from other places. forget about the danger to life, do you actually want to pay double for your house?

  33. Anyone who lives near the coast (Deal, Long Branch etc.) will know that the NJ Transit trains honk their horns at all intersections at all times of day or night.
    People from NYC may not be used to that because all their trains do not intersect roads.

  34. @bassi: I am a little confused by the animosity of your comment. In most parts of the world, it is only common sense, that if you write about an event and want the communities, schools, parents, and board of ed to take action, you should not be an anonymous source. Of course there are problems with kids and the trains. Some specific details in his letter did not add up. If this letter writer really cares about the safety of all involved he would add creditbility by writing his name. I see no reason, obvious or otherwise, that he should not. This is in no way compareble to a comment in the comment section of a website. I am not sure why you felt the need to be aggressive and insulting, but in any event, I wish you a good day.

  35. Watching a train go by and putting rocks on the tracks are two different things entirely. One is harmless fun and one is very dangerous. Also running up along side a train is dangerous and stressful for the driver. These families need to think of the conductor and his feelings as well.

  36. Maybe the rail company can send an engineer with a small team to invite the kids onto a real train to teach some safety rules and also expound upon the dangers of putting objects on the tracks. Maybe try hospitality instead of hostility. It might be more impactful.

  37. The reason you hear the train honking its horn is for two reasons. 1. They are required to do it when they are crossing a roadway to announce their presence and 2. Because at the intersection of Mary’s Lane and 4th St. people park their cars right along the tracks making it impossible for the train to pass until the owners come and move the cars.

  38. Unfortunately children are attracted to danger. As parents we would love to protect our children from all danger, but we cannot. The world is a dangerous place. Better for us to walk alongside our children and teach them how to live in a dangerous world.

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