Safety is railroad agency’s top concern
Posted on January 17, 2016
By: SARAH E. FEINBERG
Each day, nearly 900 professionals at the Federal Railroad Administration work to keep America’s communities and rail passengers safe. In particular, they work tirelessly to prevent crude-oil train derailments chronicled in The Dispatch’s recent “ Wrong Track” series (Dec. 20-22).
We take a comprehensive approach to safety because multiple factors can contribute to a derailment, spill and other dangerous incidents. That comprehensive approach includes more than three dozen actions during the past two years alone to make transporting crude oil safer.
Just one of those actions, as the series highlighted, is last year’s final rule requiring stronger tank cars less likely to puncture and a new braking system that reduces stopping distances and decreases the number of tank cars likely to derail in an incident. FRA has also started the process to establish rail-wear standards to avoid incidents caused by broken rail, and is pushing railroads to do more to ensure that employees who inspect rail are properly trained.
Transparency and accountability have been cornerstones in our safety approach. FRA requires railroads to inform states of the expected movement of crude-oil trains so local emergency responders can properly prepare. And the agency has provided more information to the media and public than ever before when significant derailments do occur.
Although nearly half of FRA’s inspectors retired in the past 10 years, FRA aggressively recruited new talent, and now has more inspectors than ever before. Our inspectors conduct blitzes in regions such as the Columbus area that see heavy crude traffic.
Safety is FRA’s mission and No. 1 priority. We will continue to do all we can to keep communities like Columbus safe. We welcome The Dis patch’s reporting on this important issue, and we hope to continue the conversation and engagement with the Columbus community.