East End residents frustrated over stopped trains, traffic

Union Pacific blames the increase in freight volumes

Some people say they have waited for hours for the trains to pass

EAST END – For residents of Houston’s East End, dealing with trains is a way of life.

But many said over the last several months, slow-moving trains have become trains parked on tracks, blocking traffic throughout the area for hours at a time.

Residents said often times there are multiple trains parked on tracks all around the area, leaving them boxed in and creating concerns about access for emergency vehicles.

“These are really dangerous times,” said resident Alex Luster, who recently recorded a cell phone video showing two men slide their bikes and then their bodies under an idle train. “I’ve come to work and try to go home for lunch, and four hours later it’s still parked there.”

Leighton Rush shared cell phone video showing a train idling near his home for at least two hours.

“The arm has been down since 7:30 p.m. and it’s now 9:30 p.m.,” Rush said in the video.

Resident James Roberts admits to regularly jumping over idle trains that block the path he walks to work.

“I literally tighten my pants and tighten and my shoes because I don’t want anything to get caught in the railings. It’s very dangerous and I just hope nothing happens to me while I’m doing it, so I just go ahead and do it and get it over with,” he said.

Many residents said they’re frustrated by the lack of response from Union Pacific.

“They basically gave us an 800 number to complain,” Luster said.

Union Pacific issued the following statement to KPRC 2:

“Union Pacific understands the community’s concerns about blocked crossings in East Houston, and we apologize for the increased wait times residents have recently experienced. A big factor is the rise in freight volumes and goods moving through Texas and the Gulf Coast region, as our nation recovers from the pandemic. Much of this freight flows through Union Pacific’s Englewood Yard in East Houston .We are actively evaluating the infrastructure and operational improvements to help ease congestion. Texas is an important hub for Union Pacific, and many of our employees call this state their home. We are committed to being good neighbors and working with the community to address these concerns. Additionally, Union Pacific coordinates closely with other railroads and transportation partners at the local and state level, so we can understand, better anticipate and plan for future logistics needs.”