ALBANY, N.Y. — In the wake of several recent accidents, the federal government today is launching a rail inspection project to check nearly 1,300 miles of track across New York State for flaws that might lead to a train derailment among other new measures designed to improve rail safety in the wake of several recent accidents, Joseph H. Boardman, the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced during a visit to Albany.
“A safe railroad begins with safe track, but it doesn’t end there,” Administrator Boardman said. “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,” he stated before climbing aboard a federal track inspection vehicle called the T-16 to observe an inspection of track from Albany to Schenectady.
Boardman explained that during the next two days the T-16 will inspect the heavily used CSX tracks from Albany to Buffalo, including the lines to Niagara Falls and to Ripley at the Pennsylvania border. The itinerary will take the T-16 through Oneida, Rochester, and Cheektowaga where major derailments have occurred in recent days and months.
The inspection will measure whether the two track rails are level and if the width between the rails is acceptable to avoid derailments
The Administrator added that last month he directed another federal track inspection vehicle, known as the T-18, be used on CSX tracks in New York. The T-18 will inspect for weaknesses in the track structure such as bad crossties or poor connections between the rail and crosstie that could cause the rails to dangerously widen when a train rolls over that section of track.
And, in order to build a baseline for evaluating a railroad’s ‘culture of safety’, the FRA will begin a quality assessment of the CSX rail inspection program, starting in New York and then extending it to their entire network.
Boardman said he is interested in learning what criteria CSX uses to determine how frequently the company inspects its own tracks beyond current federal requirements, if track improvement decisions are made differently when a line has hazardous material or passenger rail traffic, and how track problems are identified and resolved including the use of technology to find flaws. The results of this risk reduction approach will be used to guide similar FRA evaluations of other railroads, he added.
Boardman also said that he met with CSX senior executives to discuss the railroad’s recent safety record and the results of a focused inspection on CSX property conducted in January. In addition, FRA is performing a safety review of railroad bridges in western New York.
— Special to Railfanning.org News Wire