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Railroad Union Calls For More Stringent Inspection & Maintenance of Tracks

Posted By Arnold & Itkin || 27-Apr-2015

In recent years, railroads have become a more popular means of transporting oil and other flammable liquids across the country. However, after several high-profile train derailments, government regulators and industry officials have turned their focus to improving safety to prevent future accidents.

Federal regulators have considered passing new legislation that would require cars carrying oil or other dangerous materials to be designed with stronger materials that would be more resistant to leaks and fire in the event that a train derails the tracks. However, an official with the country’s largest railroad union, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE), believes the primary focus should be on preventing derailments in the first place.

Better Track Maintenance & Inspection Would Reduce Derailments

Of the 1,220 derailments in 2014, nearly 40% of them were caused at least in part by track flaws. Railroad tracks are given a class designation based on how often they are inspected and maintained. Regulations govern how fast a train can travel on a track based on its class designation. For example, Class 1 tracks – the lowest classification – forbid trains from traveling over 10 miles per hour. Class 5 tracks, which have the most stringent inspection and maintenance polices, allow for trains to travel at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.

The BMWE proposed that all tracks that carry trains transporting dangerous materials be maintained at a higher level class without an increased in speeds or be forced to reduce speeds to a class one level below its current designation. The union is also pushing for expedited repairs on tracks that currently have defects. Opponents of the reduced speeds say that slowing down oil trains will negatively impact transportation on the entire network of rail.

Regulations Regarding Car Design & Braking Systems Expected Soon

Several emergency safety orders have already been issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Earlier this month, the FRA issued an order that limits oil trains to 40 miles per hour while traveling through urban areas – regardless of the track’s class designation. More regulations regarding car design and braking systems are expected within the next month.

Categories: Industrial Dangers

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