Lancman active in fight against idling trains

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (r.) said that if elected to Congress, he will introduce legislation aimed at cleaning up railyard operations in Middle Village. Photo by Steve Mosco
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State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) is ratcheting up his charge for Congress — and he’s starting at the local level.

The candidate for the 6th Congressional District stood with residents of Glendale and Middle Village on an overpass overlooking the Fresh Pond freight rail lines, along with the backyards of adjacent homes.

If elected, Lancman intends to enact legislation aimed at protecting the community affected by the environmental problems created by railroad companies that let their trains idle on the tracks outside the rail station.

“For far too long, residents of this area have had to put up with the noise, the smell and the lack of security resulting from rail companies ignoring the community’s concerns and performing railroad yard activities outside the railroad yard,” said Lancman at the gathering Monday. “This legislation would not only put an end to these disturbances by ensuring railroad yard activities actually take place in the railroad yard, but would also give the residents of this community input into the yard’s operation.”

The Neighborhood Rail Improvement Act would specifically prohibit rail companies from performing yard activities on tracks located in residential neighborhoods. These activities include repairs, maintenance, collection, storage and transfer of materials. The legislation would also create a nine-member Regional Community Advisory Board for railroad yards, comprised of residents appointed by the elected officials representing the area.

One of the residents directly affected by the use of these tracks is Anthony Pedalino, who said there can be as many as five cars idling for more than an hour. And when a train is inoperable, the operators leave it on the tracks instead of pulling it into the railyard.

“The smell is absolutely intolerable. If you’re sitting in your yard and the trains come in, you immediately go inside to get away from the noise and the smell,” he said. “I have my air conditioning running at full blast the entire summer just to try to drown out the noise.”

Pedalino said the arrogance and attitude of the railway operators stinks just as much as the trains.

“The government needs to stand up for the residents,” he said. “This neighborhood is going to be [no more] because people are getting fed up and leaving.”

The Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale is operated by New York & Atlantic Railroad, which did not return calls requesting comment.

Lancman, whose run for Congress was recently endorsed by former Mayor Ed Koch, blamed the spike in freight activity at the Fresh Pond Transfer Station on an increased demand for rail traffic to dispose of trash.

The smell, Lancman said, permeates through the neighborhood.

“The rail companies have plenty of representatives in Congress to stand up for them,” he said. “When I get to Washington, I’m going to stand up for the people in this community.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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