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10/19/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Agreement requires the DM&E to improve safety program, FRA says



Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it reached a safety compliance agreement with the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. (DM&E).

After inspecting the 1,100-mile regional’s track in July and August, federal inspectors found “numerous problems with the railroad’s management and implementation of its safety program,” FRA officials said in a prepared statement. The administration conducted the inspections after determining the railroad had “serious safety problems with track maintenance, employee training, bridge inspections and grade crossing warning systems,” FRA officials said.

The agreement requires the DM&E to implement a three-year maintenance plan to address track defects, such as repairing broken joint bars and improving inspection practices. The railroad also must re-train managers on operating rules and test employees in “areas where FRA found the most serious non-compliance, such as ensuring proper alignment of track switches and protecting the movement of rail cars from one train to another in yards,” FRA officials said.

In addition, the regional must implement an annual bridge inspection plan that includes more frequent inspections based on bridge condition; improve procedures to inspect, test, and maintain crossing warning devices; and “promptly” investigate and maintain accurate reports for malfunctioning crossing equipment.

Although provisions of the agreement are in effect for one to three years, the FRA plans to conduct periodic inspections at the DM&E. If administration officials determine the railroad isn’t complying with provisions, the railroad would “face a more stringent order,” FRA officials said.

“Such an order would hold top railroad officials personally responsible for the railroad’s failure to adhere to the terms set forth in the original agreement,” officials said.


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