Glendale residents living next to the Otto Road rail yards got some good news Tuesday when New York & Atlantic Railway announced it will spend $1 million to cut emissions on its 11-unit fleet.
Neighborhood and environmental activists have long complained about noise and pollution from diesel engines idling there.
Railway officials said the work, which will "lower its carbon footprint by 35%," should be completed by the end of the year.
Most of the funds will come from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant through its Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. The railway will kick in about 20% of the cost.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said the change will "dramatically reduce emissions and lower noise related to idling engines."
Railway officials said the trains will be retrofitted with devices that monitor the temperature of the water in the engines. They will also ensure the water is heated, reducing the need to keep the engines idling. Currently, they are kept running so their temperature does not drop below 38 degrees.
Residents of Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth - neighborhoods bisected by the railroad tracks - have said the CSX and New York & Atlantic Railway trains are a ongoing source of problems in their areas.
They formed a group called CURES - Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions - to address the issues.
Some Middle Village residents have said the noise and stench from trains carrying trash in the early morning hours make it impossible to get a good night's sleep.
And Glendale homeowners who live alongside New York & Atlantic's Otto Road facility said noise and pollution are a constant headache.
Railway officials said they have worked hard to improve air quality along its 269-mile freight route.
"This is a step in the right direction," said Mary Parisen, a founding member of CURES. "But we want them to address other issues, such as scheduling of these trains. People are hearing trains banging [from trains coupled] at all hours of the night."
Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association and a member of CURES, hailed the latest effort, but noted it "doesn't solve the quality of life problems for people living near the tracks."