Nashua officials are optimistic that a proposed acquisition of New England’s Pan Am Railways by CSX will lead to solving the problem of frequent train derailments snarling downtown traffic.
The most recent derailment occurred Feb. 11, when a train went off the tracks around 12:30 p.m. along Nashua Drive at Canal Street. Downtown traffic was slowed for about three hours.
“Some tracks have been repaired, but where the derailment happened you can see it is under water. It is really very bad. It should be put higher than it is,” Eric Drouart of Nashua said of the failing train tracks during a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday.
Drouart, who lives nearby at the Jackson Falls condominiums, said the tracks next to Margarita’s restaurant and Nancy’s Diner seem to cause a lot of problems.
“I am just concerned since it carries freight and tank cars,” Drouart said.
City officials have been trying to deal with the company, which he said has not been responsive over the years.
While some work has been done on the tracks recently, it wasn’t enough, according to Mayor Jim Donchess.
“These derailments are a big problem. The track is in terrible shape,” he said.
“We have talked to them a thousand times about the track. Nothing happens.”
The mayor is hopeful that the situation will improve if the Surface Transportation Board approves a proposed acquisition of Pan Am by CSX Corp.
Donchess said city representatives already have spoken with CSX and alerted them to the problem.
He is optimistic that if the acquisition goes through, CSX will be responsive to Nashua’s concerns.
In November, CSX, which is based in Florida, announced it had signed an agreement to acquire New England’s Pan Am Railways. Pan Am has about 1,700 miles of track in the region, including 120 miles in New Hampshire.
“They are seeking approval of an acquisition. There is no guarantee,” Donchess said.
To date, the transportation board has not held any hearings on the acquisition.
The city has no authority over the rail tracks or the railroad company, which is federally regulated.