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Rail News Home Safety

7/17/2012



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.

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