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New York derailment fallout: FRA to inspect CSXT's track, assess the Class I's rail inspection program

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is answering New York senators’ call to investigate rail safety in the state because of several recent train derailments. Yesterday, the agency announced plans to inspect about 1,300 miles of track statewide to identify rail flaws that could cause a derailment.

The FRA’s T-16 vehicle will inspect heavily used CSX Transportation tracks between Albany and Buffalo, including lines to Niagara Falls and Ripley. In addition, the agency will deploy a T-18 vehicle on other CSXT tracks. The T-18 can detect track structure weaknesses, such as bad crossties or poor connections between a rail and crossties.

The FRA also will inspect western New York rail bridges and launch a quality assessment of CSXT’s rail inspection program, beginning in the state, to create a baseline for evaluating the railroad’s safety procedures. FRA inspectors want to know the criteria CSXT uses to determine how frequently to inspect track, and how track problems are identified and resolved. The agency plans to use assessment results to guide similar evaluations of other railroads.

FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman also met with CSXT senior executives to discuss the railroad’s recent safety record and the results of an inspection conducted in January.

“Railroads needs to embrace a ‘culture of safety’ and find new ways to prevent the kind of accidents that have disrupted lives and commerce, and shaken our confidence in the safety of tracks,” said Boardman in a prepared statement.

Following a CSXT derailment that occurred March 12 in Oneida, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Boardman calling for a statewide rail safety investigation and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed forming a special task force to look into recent train accidents. In early December, two train derailments occurred in Cheektowaga and Buffalo; in mid-January, another two trains derailed in Maspeth, Queens, and East Rochester.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/20/2007