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Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way


Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Railroads need to do more to improve track, union official says


The president of a national railroad labor union this week called on freight railroads to step up their maintenance of track carrying oil trains in order to help prevent future derailments.

Track conditions are a leading cause of train derailments in the United States, accounting for a third of all train accidents, noted Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division President Freddie Simpson, who cited Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) data.

"By every measure, track-caused accidents are the most prevalent and the most preventable," said Simpson in a press release. "Even discounting the large number of low speed accidents regularly occurring in rail yards, there were still 649 main line train accidents in the U.S. in 2014. Of these main line accidents, 329 were classified as derailments and an astounding 47 percent (155) of these were reported by the railroads themselves to be track caused."

Addressing track conditions is all the more important now that U.S. railroads are transporting more crude oil and other volatile commodities, Simpson said. Crude by rail in the United States grew from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to more than 400,000 carloads in 2013.

"The wear and tear on the track structure, coupled with the volatility of the commodities being transported, requires additional track maintenance to stay ahead of the rate of track degradation," said Simpson. "The railroad companies have been amassing record profits for years and we want them to continue to be exceptionally profitable. Safety and profitability go hand-in-hand."

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