Another round of targeted tank car and rail inspections in New York found 62 defects, including one “critical” safety defect that required immediate corrective action, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
The inspections are part of the governor’s efforts to address the safety of crude-by-rail shipments. State and federal teams examined 524 tank cars and about 152 miles of track and 38 switches during the inspections.
Last week, inspection teams from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) inspected tank cars at Canadian Pacific’s Kenwood Yard in Albany, CSX Transportation’s Selkirk Yard in Albany County and Frontier Yard in Buffalo, and the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad’s D&E Yard in Buffalo. They also inspected various CP and CSX mainlines.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Jan. 24 announced new regulations governing rail inspections that will help identify rail flaws and further eliminate the risk of derailments. The new regulations require performance based inspections, a process designed to minimize rail defects that will generally result in an increase in tests performed over a designated area of track.
“Safety is our highest priority, and this new rule will make rail transportation even safer for everything from passengers and rail employees to crude oil and other freight shipments,” said Secretary Foxx.
The final rule published in today’s Federal Register strengthens existing Federal Track Safety Standards by:
Requiring the use of performance-based rail inspection methods that focus on maintaining low rail failure rates per mile of track and generally results in more frequent testing;
Providing a four-hour period to verify that certain less serious suspected defects exist in a rail section once track owners learn that the rail contains an indication of those defects;
Requiring that rail inspectors are properly qualified to operate rail flaw detection equipment and interpret test results; and
Establishing an annual maximum allowable rate of rail defects and rail failures between inspections for each designated inspection segment of track.
The Federal Track Safety Standards require railroads to regularly inspect track conditions, and to also conduct separate rail inspections with specially equipped hi-rail motor vehicles that operate over rail tracks. This equipment employs ultrasonic technology to identify internal rail defects that could potentially lead to an accident. Data is collected in real-time.
The current rail inspection standards include a maximum number of days and tonnage that can be hauled over a stretch of track between tests. The new regulations establish internal rail flaw defect standards for each railroad while the technology used will continue to drive down the number of known rail defects over time.
“Our goal is to drive continuous safety improvement and further reduce the risk of broken rails and derailments,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “While track-caused accidents have declined by 40 percent over the past decade, these new standards will better advance the use of technology and achieve the next generation of safety.”
The final rule implements Section 403(b) of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA). FRA has now completed 30 of the approximately 42 RSIA-mandated final rules, guidance documents, model state laws, studies, and reports. Today’s final rule also builds upon decades of FRA-sponsored research focused on enhancing rail integrity, and addresses recommendations by both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.
NEW YORK – Two U.S. senators on Sunday called for expanded national railroad safety inspections, a day before a special federal safety team arrives in New York for a 60-day probe into operations on the Metro-North Railroad commuter train after the deaths of four passengers.
In light of the deadly Dec. 1 derailment, Sen. Charles Schumer said safety inspections are “woefully underfunded” and that the Federal Railroad Administration “simply doesn’t have enough resources to fully inspect our rail lines, to sufficiently prepare implementation of safety measures or even do safety spot checks around the country.”