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Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation

8/2/2018



Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rail bridge collapse prompts Schumer's call for more FRA inspectors


According to Schumer, only 1 percent of the 70,000 to 100,000 privately owned rail bridges across the nation are audited in any given year.
Photo – Schumer's office

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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to add more railroad bridge safety inspectors.

The senator's demand comes weeks after a portion of a rail bridge collapsed on a street in downtown Syracuse, New York. Although no one was injured, the July 5 incident sheds light on the fact that the agency has just six specialists tasked with overseeing rail bridge inspections and audits, he said.

The bridge is owned by the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad, according to local media reports.

"Only three people are responsible for auditing 3,000 privately-owned rail bridges that span across New York State — on top of being responsible for all of the rail bridges in over a dozen of other states," Schumer said in a press release. "It does not take a rail safety expert to know the math simply doesn't add up. The fact that safety concerns could be slipping through the cracks makes it clear as day that we must increase the number of inspectors and rail specialists that audit these critical links nationwide."

According to Schumer, only 1 percent of the 70,000 to 100,000 privately owned rail bridges across the nation are audited in any given year.

While public roadway bridges must be inspected at least every other year— a task that in New York State falls to its Department of Transportation — privately owned railroad bridges do not have this same requirement, Schumer said. Instead, railroads are required to self-inspect their bridges annually and are subject to FRA oversight.

"I will continue my push for the FRA to hire more train bridge inspectors so we can ensure that private companies are doing their job and keeping these bridges in top-notch shape. Simply put, we should not be waiting for bridges to collapse and fall onto our streets to do something," Schumer said.



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