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July 9, 2014

State eyes ending train noise, fumes near homes

Change in rail management opens door to talks

HAVERHILL — Ten years later, there may finally be a solution.

For a decade, neighbors of the Bradford train station have complained about trains idling for long periods of time, creating noise and air pollution around their homes.

Yesterday, they discovered that a recent change in operations management for the region’s commuter rail services could put an end to trains idling at the station.

At a meeting organized by state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, neighbors met with state and local officials to explain their concerns with idling trains and hear how legislators propose to address the issue.

Residents said trains idle at the station for two hours or more on weekdays, often from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., creating noise pollution as well as lead emissions from diesel fuel.

“Our houses are 200 feet away from the layover station, and when a breeze from the river comes through it takes fumes from the trains and pushes them into our houses,” said Germain Avenue resident Bert LaCerte.

O’Connor Ives said she hopes a recent change in commuter rail operations management could bring a resolution to the problem. That management changed hands from Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Services to Keolis Commuter Services on July 1.

“The timing is right to voice ideas to Keolis about trains idling at Bradford station,” O’Connor Ives said.

State Sen. Thomas McGee, D-Lynn, chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, joined O’Connor Ives at yesterday’s meeting. He told residents while he couldn’t promise an immediate resolution to the problem, he will update them as conversations with Keolis progress.

While residents hope renewed discussions will help solve the problem, some are still waiting on promises made by the MBTA to curb noise and emissions from idling trains.

The MBTA began limiting idling times in 2009 to a half hour during the early morning, with police enforcing the limit.

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