Posts Tagged ‘railroad safety’

FRA Issues Safety Bulletin on Inspections

January 14, 2023

The Federal Railroad Administration recently released a safety bulletin to remind railroad workers to conduct visual inspections before pulling cars.

The bulletin was issued following an incident in mid-December in Alabama on Norfolk Southern in which a train operating on a main line struck a piece of angle iron protruding from a freight car on an adjacent main track. A preliminary FRA investigation found the piece of angle iron appeared to have been part of the freight car and not its contents.

A worker had repaired the carbody side top cord of a scrap metal gondola car that was starting to dislodge from the carbody.

The angle iron was protruding when the car was pulled from a shipper facility, moved to a yard and then added to the consist of a different train.

The angle iron pierced a locomotive cab window and fatally injured a crew member.

The FRA has asked railroads to review the safety bulletin with its employees “to increase awareness of this hazardous condition that led to a fatal injury.”

FRA Issues Safety Advisory on Unintended Brake Release on a Stopped Train

December 30, 2022

The Federal Railroad Administration this week issued a safety advisory pertaining to issues encountered by train crews who experience an unintended brake release while stopped at a signal.

The advisory recommends four steps to address the unintended release of train air brakes.

Safety Advisory 2033-02 was published in the Federal Register.

The advisory was prompted by a June 22 incident during a thunderstorm involving an intermodal train with three locomotives, 47 loaded cars, and six empty cars, totaling 9,204 feet in length and 7,392 tons in weight.

The train had stopped on on a downhill grade of 0.9 to 1.18 percent near the signal governing the train’s movement, set the train’s air brakes at approximately 12 pounds, and fully set the locomotive consist’s independent brakes.

The train sat for three hours and then began rolling toward the signal as it continued to display a stop indication.

The locomotive consist’s independent brakes remained fully applied but due to the grade, tonnage and wet rail could not solely hold the train without the automatic air brakes also being applied.

As that incident unfoled, an opposing train movement was about to enter the interlocking in front of the rolling train.

The crew was able to stop the train, in part by activating the emergency brake valve and the train stopped short of the signal. The crew then, after contacting the dispatcher, set a sufficient number of car handbrakes to hold the train on the grade.

Among the FRA recommendations are train crews should not expect a service rate or emergency brake application to indefinitely maintain application of a train’s air brakes; if a train is stopped with air brakes set, and the train begins moving, the crew should immediately apply the emergency brake and after the train is stopped set a sufficient number of handbrakes to secure the train from further unintended movement before releasing the brakes and recharging the train’s air brake system.

Other recommendations included that each railroad should adopt and implement an air brake procedure that addresses unintended brake releases.; and railroads should have an operating supervisor conduct a face-to-face meeting with each locomotive engineer and conductor to explain and reinforce the contents of this advisory.

Ohio Railroad Receives Jake Award for Safety

July 1, 2022

An Ohio railroad has received a Jake Safety Award from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Honored was the Columbus & Ohio River Rail Road for its above-industry average safety performance during 2021.

ASLRRA gave Jake Awards to 364 member railroads. To receive a Jake Award, an ASLRRA member must “perform better than the industry average reportable injury frequency rate for railroads other than Class Is, commuter railroads and Amtrak based on date reported to the FRA during the calendar year and must have completed all FRA-required employee-on-duty reporting for 2021.”

The awards are named for the late Lowell S. “Jake” Jacobson, president and general manager of the Copper Basin Railway.

Also winning a Jake award were Indiana-based Gary Railway Company and Kentucky-based Paducah & Louisville Railway

Ohio Police Agency Gets FRA Safety Grant

June 15, 2022

A project in Middletown, Ohio, is among those that will share in grant funding from the Federal Railroad Administration to promote railroad safety.

The Middletown Police Department will receive $120,000 to seek to reduce trespassing at high trespass hot spots, including several locations of homeless encampments along railroad right of ways that contribute to the trespassing risk.

A team of two officers will patrol hot spot areas through four-hour patrols working in cooperation with the CSX Police Department.

The FRA said this week it will award nearly $2 million in Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grants and $207,000 in Railroad Trespassing Suicide grants.

The funding will be used for what the FRA described in a news release as law enforcement trespass prevention activities and educational outreach campaigns aimed at reducing railroad-related suicides on rail rights-of-way.

The grants are one component of a larger FRA program called National Strategy to Reduce Trespassing and are being awarded to programs located in areas with a high occurrence of railroad trespassing incidents.

The FRA said 25 projects in 13 states are receiving funding. Some grants also were awarded to programs in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

This includes $114,348 awarded to the Dearborn, Michigan, police department, which plans to deploy over the next year a team of two officers on four-hour blocks of overtime three times per week.

The department said in its grant application that it has responded to more than 1,700 railroad-related incidents since 2016.

In Pennsylvania, the Lower Makefield Township Police Department will receive $40,000 to provide 12 hours of police patrol activities each week for a year. The officers will monitor rail lines and the adjacent property in designated hot spots.

The LMTPD has responded to five rail-related suicides in the past five years involving trains of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and CSX.

FRA Finalizes Fatigue Program Rule

June 14, 2022

Freight and passenger railroads will be required to implement a fatigue and risk management program under a new rule issued by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The rule was published Monday in the Federal Register and affects Class 1 railroads as well as Amtrak and commuter railroads.

Those carriers are being directed to develop and implement the fatigue program as part of their larger system safety and risk reduction programs, FRA officials said in a statement.

Each railroad must consult with affected employees to identify fatigue hazards, as well as specific actions to be taken to mitigate or eliminate those risks.

The fatigue management program is mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

That law requires railroads to conduct an annual review of their fatigue management programs and directs the FRA to conduct periodic audits.

The FRA rule can be viewed at

FRA Warns NS About Conductor Training

November 2, 2021

The Federal Railroad Administration has warned Norfolk Southern about shortcomings in the railroad’s conductor-certification program.

A story posted on the website of Trains magazine said the warning came in a letter from FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose.

The letter cited a series of incidents in which employees who were certified conductors with less than a year of service were struck by moving railroad equipment and suffered serious injuries.

The FRA called on NS to take action to avoid future incidents as well as reviewing its conductor training practices with an eye toward correcting training deficiencies.

The story can be read at

Short Line Group Helps With Safety Culture

October 14, 2021

The Short Line Safety Institute has published online resources designed to help short line and regional railroads improve their safety cultures.

In a news release, SLSI said the three offerings include: a Safety Communication Poster Program, a “Lost in Translation” paper and a HazMat Minute and Safety Minute video series.

SLSI noted that the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research, Development and Technology recently released the results of SLSI’s 2020 Systematic Review of Safety Culture Assessments conducted on short lines.

The trade association developed the poster program in response to those findings.

For more information visit

CSX Creates Safety Training Train

October 11, 2021

CSX has created a safety train designed to provide hazardous materials safety training to first responders in its 23-state network.

In a news release, CSX said it trains thousands of first responders every year through classroom training in local firehouses, exercises and table-top drills, as well as web-based and self-study courses.

The safety train features a mobile classroom and technologically advanced equipment and is designed to supplement the railroad’s existing safety training efforts.

CSX said its safety training program also includes working with its employees, customers and contractors.

The goal of the training is to provide first responders with railroad safety tools, hazard identification protocols and transportation techniques to safely respond and protect the public in the event of a rail emergency.

NTSB Wants Changes in Track Protection

October 1, 2021

The National Transportation Safety Board wants Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to ban the practice of using watchmen to notify track worker of approaching trains in areas where positive train control offers additional safety features.

The recommendation was included in an NTSB report about an April 24, 2018, accident in which an Amtrak watchman was killed in Bowie, Maryland, when he was struck from behind by a northbound Amtrak train while focused on the movement of a southbound MARC commuter train.

The report said the probable cause of the accident was “Amtrak’s insufficient site-specific safety work plan for the Bowie project that (1) did not consider the multiple main tracks in a high-noise environment and (2) did not provide the rail gang watchman with a safe place to stand,” leading to him standing on an active track.

NTSB noted in its report that PTC systems can automatically slow trains through work zones.

Short Lines Mark Safety Milestone

June 7, 2021

A short line holding company with properties in Pennsylvania said last week that it passed a safety milestone last week when its three operating railroad subsidiaries each achieved three years without a personal injury as defined by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Carload Express owns the Allegheny Valley Railroad, the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad and the Delmarva Central Railroad.

Carload said its companies and their 100 employees operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week, serving about 100 customers on 331 route miles of track.

Each employee received a safety dividend in appreciation for their contribution.