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Rail News: Safety

Amtrak engineers honored for rail safety, Barkan receives NARP's Academic Award


A trio of Amtrak engineers and Christopher Barkan were recognized with awards at the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) reception held earlier this week in Washington, D.C.

The 2012 Dr. Gary Burch Memorial Safety Award was presented to three Amtrak engineers for their “groundbreaking work on the monitoring of track conditions, reducing the risk of accidents and derailments,” NARP officials said in a prepared statement. The honorees are Michael Trosino, senior director of clearances, inspections and tests; Steven Chrismer, principal engineer of track geometry; and Marty Perkins Sr., rail engineer stress management in the Amtrak engineering department.

Trosino, Chrismer and Perkins developed a method of measuring rail temperature to determine when heat slow orders are needed, which has proved more precise than the ambient air temperature most railroads use, NARP officials said.

The three engineers “demonstrated an extraordinary level of safety commitment to railroad passengers on the NEC [Northeast Corridor] and Michigan by implementing this rail temperature monitoring program to reduce the potential for catastrophic risk of track buckles that could result in a serious accident or derailment,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman.

The Burch award was presented at the NARP event under the auspices of Robert VanderClute, senior vice president for safety and operations at the Association of American Railroads and part of the selection committee.

Committee members have asked AAR researchers to investigate whether the approach should be adopted industry wide.

The Burch family established the $1,000 award in 1994, and has sponsored it since.

Meanwhile, NARP presented its Academic Award to Professor Christopher Barkan, director of the Railroad Engineering Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Barkan was recognized for a career “dedicated to promoting the understanding of railroad engineering and advancing rail technology,” NARP officials said.

Under Barkan’s leadership, the university expanded the rail curriculum from one course to six, making it the largest at any North American university. In 2010, Barkan and his colleagues established a course on high-speed rail engineering.

“The Railroad Engineering Program is the nation’s premier incubator for the next generation of men and women who will keep America’s rail network strong,” said NARP President Ross Capon.