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Rail News: Union Pacific Railroad

FRA raises safety concerns about UP's rolling stock

FRA Administrator Amit Bose
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In a Sept. 8 letter to Union Pacific Railroad's top executives, Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose last week expressed "serious concern" about the safety of the Class I’s rolling stock.

"The compliance of the rolling stock (freight cars and locomotives) on the UP network is poor and UP was unwilling or unable to take steps to improve the condition of their equipment," Bose wrote to UP CEO Jim Vena, President Beth Whited and Executive Vice President Eric Gehringer.

In July and August, FRA inspected UP’s mechanical operations and rolling stock, during which inspectors identified a "concerning number of locomotives and freight cars operating on the UP network with federal defects," the letter states.

"Specifically, the defect ratio of freight cars was 19.93% and 72.69% for locomotives (which are both twice the national average)," Bose wrote.

Bose also questioned whether UP had the personnel necessary to make repairs following the railroad's recent furlough of 94 locomotive craft employees and 44 carmen in response to lower business volumes.

A copy of the Bose letter can be read here and here.

UP Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations Kristen South emailed to Progressive Railroading the following statement in response to the Bose letter: "Union Pacific will never compromise on the safety of our employees. Safety is always our first priority, and we are reviewing and will address the concerns raised by the FRA."

South also said there is "no correlation between recent furloughs and Union Pacific’s ability to address mechanical repairs," adding that the railroad has "appropriate staffing for all crafts, and always leave a buffer to allow for the natural ebb and flow nature of our business."

"Finally, we have worked for years with FRA inspectors and respect the work they do. We have the same goal — safety," she said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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