The Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Railroad Safety issued the following bulletin on Feb. 13, 2024, in response to an industry fatality earlier this year. The text is reproduced below:

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is investigating an accident that resulted in fatal injuries to a locomotive engineer during yard switching operations.

At the time of the accident, the fatally injured engineer, who had approximately 30 years of experience, was operating a locomotive on the east side of the yard and working with a conductor and brakeman to switch cars. Another crew was switching cars on the west side of the yard and had set out 35 cars.

At some point, those 35 cars from the west side of the yard track rolled uncontrolled towards the east, colliding with the locomotive, occupied by the engineer, that was located on the east yard
track switching lead. The collision ejected the engineer from the locomotive cab and the engineer succumbed to his injuries.

Although FRA’s investigation into this accident is ongoing, FRA is issuing this bulletin to remind railroads and railroad employees of the importance of ensuring rolling equipment is properly secured at all times, including ensuring:

  1. Employees understand the importance of complying with railroad rules for securement of
    rolling equipment;
  2. Railroads provide employees adequate training on railroad operating rules and procedures
    for proper securement of rolling equipment;
  3. Railroads provide employees appropriate periodic oversight of compliance with railroad
    operating rules and procedures for proper securement of rolling equipment;
  4. Railroads empower employees to seek immediate clarification of any safety rule,
    including rules related to the securement of equipment; and
  5. Railroads remind employees of the dangers associated with improperly secured rolling

The purpose of this Safety Bulletin, which is informal in nature, is to ensure the railroad industry, including railroad employees, are aware of this recent accident that resulted in a fatality of an employee. As FRA completes its investigation, it may take additional actions with respect to this accident.

For further information, please contact John Mayser, Operating Practices Specialist, at or (202) 493-8008.

Issued: February 13, 2024

This bulletin is available below as a printable PDF.

Remember to use the union’s Safety Condition Report either through the website or the SMART app to alert officers to concerns about your property. Railroad workers who experience difficulty with Positive Train Control are also encouraged to fill out a Technology Event Report.

Brother Paul M. Payne of Mount Vernon, Ohio, a member of Local 1397 in Columbus, and a father to five children, lost his life in an accident the morning of Nov. 22 at the CSX yard in Fostoria, Ohio.


Brother Payne, a conductor for eight years, was at work setting out a cut of cars in the yard located in northwest Ohio when he was fatally injured.
His death is under investigation.
Brother Payne was also a sergeant in the Ohio Army National Guard.
“Paul was a dedicated husband, father and son that loved nothing more than spending time with his family,” his family wrote in his obituary.
He is survived by his wife of 19 years, Haley (Davis) Payne; his children, Shawn, Jacob, Marcus, Lily and Sarah; his mother; sister; and paternal grandmother.
The SMART Transportation Division offers its heartfelt condolences to the Payne family, his friends and his SMART-TD brothers and sisters in Local 1397 and elsewhere who are mourning his loss.
His full obituary is available here.

TULSA, Okla. — A BNSF employee and UTU member was killed in a yard accident here Aug. 4 when a vehicle in which she was riding was struck by a flatcar during a hump operation, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and reported by the Tulsa World newspaper.
Deborah Ann Beeler, 39, of Claremore, was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple injuries, reports the newspaper. She was a member of UTU Local 1289 since July 2005.
According to the newspaper report, Beeler was riding a 2010 Kubota RTV that was crossing BNSF’s Cherokee Yard tracks around 2:15 a.m., Aug. 4, when it was hit on the passenger side by the flatcar that was moving by gravity off the hump. She reportedly was pinned in the RTV for two hours before Tulsa Fire Department rescue workers could free her.
Beeler is survived by her husband, Michael, and sons Tyler, 11, and Wyatt, 9.
UTU Local 1289 member Randy Battenfield, 27, who reportedly was operating the RTV, was not injured, according to the newspaper. Battenfield became a UTU member July 1, 35 days prior to the accident.
Beeler is the fifth UTU member killed in an on-duty accident in 2011, and the second in a yard accident.