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EDITORIAL: Summer issue’s back



WE NEED A VACATION. How about you? It’s not because there isn’t work to do. In our case it’s news of one sort or another, especially with an election coming up. We don’t need to think about the workload ahead. We need to Not Think about it for what works out to about 8 days of leisure. (But look how the word “works” slips into a conversation about vacations.)

Never mind the sneaky words. Just please remember there will be four issues of The Columbia Paper in the month of August even though the calendar says there are 5 Thursdays. There will Not be a separate issue published Thursday August 24.

We call it our Special Summer Double Issue. We can explain it when you get back from vacation.

(For early deadlines see Page 24 of the print issue.)

Is this our stop?

IT MUST HAVE MADE one helluva scraping sound. A dozen or so CSX freight cars on a 157-car train decided to take a walk by themselves and jumped off the rails early in the morning a week ago Friday.

We can shrug it off now; nobody was killed or injured. But the outcome could have been different since a regional highway—Route 5—parallels the tracks in the area of the accident. And nearby lies the Mohawk River. On my map, the road, the rails and the river are all northwest of Albany.

This is how Governor Hochul put the incident in a press release the day of the accident: “I have been briefed on the train derailment in Montgomery County where several tanker cars came off the tracks this morning and have directed state personnel to provide all necessary assistance to local emergency response officials.

“The New York State Police, Office of Fire Prevention and Control and Department of Transportation officials are onsite to monitor the situation, assist with the response and manage traffic. At this time, there are no injuries reported and no spills have been detected. Rail traffic has been stopped which will impact Amtrak passenger service, and Route 5 has been closed in both directions. Our top priority is ensuring all railroad workers and nearby motorists are safe and that Amtrak service is restored as quickly as possible.”

The governor’s statement was posted not long after the derailment. On Monday, August 7, the governor’s original press release was still the only information on the incident from the state. A call to the governor’s media office August 8 was not returned.

Why does any of this matter? Amtrak transports passengers and CSX carries freight. The derailment happened on CSX-owned tracks.

But the governor’s office mistakenly said that Amtrak service was also halted. And to compound the misinformation, the Amtrak webpage for tickets did not respond.

Undoubtedly there will be an investigation into what caused the derailment. But there must also be an independent review of why CSX, Amtrak and the governor’s office couldn’t get their trains straight to avoid having this kind of communications breakdown from happening again.

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