Train in vain

Train in vain

Dear Ace: I live in an apartment overlooking the train tracks, and lately it seems like the trains are running way more often at night. And is it just me, or are they getting louder? It’s driving me nuts! —Lyna Wake

Dear Lyna: Ace must agree: Nothing is worse than being kept up by noise on hot summer nights like these…unless, of course, you’re the one causing that noise. (Ace is looking at you, Advice Goddess, you salty minx!)
    As you well know, Charlottesville hosts a sizable length of railroad track, and trains rumbling through the city at night are nothing new. But, after talking to a number of people, Ace is convinced that you’re correct. Among those who confirmed your noise-related nocturnal observations was Robert Sullivan, spokesman for the railway company CSX. As Sullivan put it, “there certainly has been growth in rail traffic.”
    So why the upswing in chugging choo-choos? Rail, it turns out, has become a more and more attractive answer to companies’ transportation needs in recent months. According to a June 25 story in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “the high price of oil and diesel fuel has been a major factor in making railroads more competitive… because trains are typically about three times more fuel-efficient than trucks.”
    On an interesting side note, Lyna, Ace’s research also uncovered the fact that CSX sold its international shipping business, CSX World Terminals, to Dubai Ports World in late 2004. That’s right—the very same Dubai Ports World who caused all that ruckus when they recently tried to purchase a British company that operated major American shipping ports. Add in the fact that CSX is involved in a joint venture with politically super-connected equity firm The Carlyle Group (and was once headed by former Treasury Secretary John Snow), and you could have all the makings of a tasty conspiracy theory.
    Alas, as it turns out, CSX World Ter-minals doesn’t operate anywhere within the U.S., so it seems that Ace’s planned blockbuster expose of the “Dubai death train” snaking through Charlottesville under cover of night is sadly not to be.
    No, Lyna, the cause of your sleepless nights is fairly straightforward: Highway traffic goes down, railway traffic goes up, and you get less shut-eye as a result. And, as long as we live in the land of three-buck-a-gallon gas, there doesn’t seem to be any respite on the horizon. Perhaps you should try Ambien—and then, next week, I can answer your question about why you keep waking up in front of your refrigerator, having just consumed an entire Christmas ham.

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