OAKLAND — Pan Am Railways is again under fire from Oakland residents for leaving railroad cars idle on sidings in town for months on end.

Residents of Railroad Avenue in downtown Oakland say about 100 cars have been left idle and vacant for about three months near their homes. At night, the neighbors say, they hear people in the vacant cars.

Jennifer Lally, of Railroad Avenue , said she and her husband, Daniel, looked into one of the train cars and saw empty beer cans, bedding and clothes.

“It looks like there’s evidence of drug use,” she said.

There were also beer cans that had been cut in half and had ashes in them that looked like wadded up newspaper that had been burned. Lally said she had concerns about the fires.

When the Lallys moved into their home 10 years ago at the end of Railroad Avenue, they knew they would have to deal with trains. However, she said she was surprised that Pan Am Railways would not respond to her complaints of the safety hazard created by the vacant cars.

“I just keep thinking, isn’t there some sort of public responsibility the railroad has to the community?” Lally said.

Pan Am Railways did not respond to a request for comment.

Inez Gregor, a Railroad Avenue resident, said people camping in the rail cars makes her feel as though her children are less safe playing in the neighborhood.

“As an adult, I don’t have a problem with it. But I have four children, and I personally don’t feel safe letting them outside. I don’t know who is sleeping in the cars,” she said.

She said the trains also are gathering graffiti, which she said can include profanity and graphic language that she doesn’t want her younger children reading.

“It’s been an ongoing complaint. They don’t respect privacy. You can only be going easygoing for so long,” she said.

In May, another Oakland family said Pan Am also had left empty cars for months near their home. Miriam Easton, of Fairfield Street, said in December 2013 she found a train of cars bisecting the farm she lives on. As of May they had still not been moved, and Pan Am did not respond to their requests to have the cars moved.

The recent frustration on Railroad Avenue prompted Lally to call Pan Am, which she said resulted in her phone call getting passed around, but everyone said they couldn’t help her.

“I got bounced around,” she said.

The couple never has encountered people living in the cars, but she said they’ve seen the items brought into the cars and have heard voices at night.

“If there’s homeless people there, they need homes. If there’s kids, they need to get out of there,” she said.

Capt. Rick Stubbert, of the Oakland Police Department, said his department received complaints from Lally about the rail cars.

Stubbert said if the police receive such complaints, they can issue a summons for trespassing if they catch a person out there and they can notify the rail company.

He said they occasionally have received reports of people trespassing in the cars, but the situation on Railroad Avenue appears to be different from what was described in reports they’ve taken in the past.

“But to have someone actually living in them would be pretty unusual,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

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