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Rail News: Safety

FRA issues safety advisory to raise awareness about track buckles

Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a safety advisory to remind railroads, track owners and their employees about the importance of complying with continuous-welded rail (CWR) procedures and reviewing internal engineering instructions that address CWR inspections to identify track buckling-prone conditions.

The advisory aims to “heighten awareness of the potential consequences of an unexpected track buckle, particularly considering the unusually high, and prolonged, record-breaking temperatures that have affected much of the United States in recent weeks,” FRA officials said in an advisory notice. A number of recent train accidents involving derailments preliminarily were determined to be caused by rail buckling under extremely hot temperatures, a condition commonly referred to as a “sun kink,” they said.

The FRA recommends that railroads and track owners:
• Review the circumstances of recent track-buckling-related derailments with employees.
• Discuss the requirements of CWR procedures with workers responsible for inspecting CWR, with a focus on inspecting track to identify buckling-prone conditions and other conditions that can cause track to buckle.
• Evaluate and ensure that employees responsible for CWR inspections and repairs have been adequately trained, and are capable of performing proper inspection and repair procedures.
• Reinforce with employees responsible for inspections the importance of maintaining sufficient anchoring and ballast to maintain track lateral resistance, especially around fixed track structures.
• Review recent track maintenance records to identify previous buckling incidents and their locations.
• Apply heat-restriction slow orders at necessary locations, with consideration of populated areas.
• Carry out slow orders at speeds that will permit the passage of sufficient time and tonnage to restore track stabilization where necessary.
• And review current internal engineering instructions to ensure they properly identify the necessary track maintenance instructions to prevent track buckling during extreme heat conditions.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/17/2012