By Kaylee Lindenmuth
A concerned Kutztown-borough resident recently approached borough council about emissions from the locomotive operated by the Kutztown-based Allentown and Auburn Railroad. On Monday, Oct. 22, the railroad issued a response.
Phila Back, a resident of Pine Street, which parallels the railroad near its station, worried that diesel emissions from the idling 1937 locomotive could cause health issues.
Back told the council she had asthma, which she alleged was aggravated by the emissions, and she urged the borough and the railroad to seek grants to retrofit the locomotive’s engine.
In a statement, railroad president Michael Bast said, “Our Engine 206 is an important part of railroading history in not only Pennsylvania, but in the entire country, and we are proud to be able to preserve it for the enjoyment of people of all ages. With regard to Ms. Back’s concerns about its idling and exhaust, the A&A had already agreed to move the engine away from the station between runs and allow it to idle farther down the track away from her house. The engine cannot be turned off and on throughout an operating day, but we will do our best to minimize any inconvenience to Ms. Back.” Bast also noted that retrofitting an engine of 206’s age, if even possible, would destroy its heritage and be counter to railroading preservation efforts.
The statement continued to add that Bast would “address those specific concerns at the next council meeting and point out some inaccuracies, adding that the railroad is in full compliance with federal regulations concerning emissions and other requirements of railroads.