View Full Version : New Inspection Program to Target Rail Safety Hot Spots

01-25-2006, 10:15 PM
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Inspection Program to Target Rail Safety Hot Spots, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta Announces During Rail Safety Update

A new program to deploy federal railroad inspectors to safety hot spots will begin early this year, Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced today during an update on his Department’s National Rail Safety Action Plan.

He said the plan “is helping to improve the business of safety in America, at just the right time,” adding it “ensures our rail network and our economic growth can continue to move forward at a robust and record-breaking pace.”

Mineta said the Department expects to start by March a new inspection program that will use accident data to identify rail safety problems for specific railroads and states. The inspection plan will allow federal inspectors to focus their efforts where safety issues are most likely to arise so they can be corrected before a serious train accident occurs, Mineta added.

Over the coming months, the Department also will deploy two new track inspection vehicles, tripling the number of miles of track inspected each year; propose a new federal rule to address common human errors that lead to train accidents such as improperly lined switches; and undertake research into train operator fatigue, near misses, and the strength of hazardous materials tank cars, he noted.

Mineta unveiled the plan in May 2005, which lays out an aggressive agenda to target the most frequent, highest risk causes of train accidents; better utilize federal rail inspection resources; and accelerate research efforts.

He noted that several components of the plan, including pilot projects to test technology to identify small cracks in rail joints, monitor switch positions in non-signaled or dark territory, and provide timely hazardous materials information to emergency responders, are already in place. The Secretary added that stronger partnerships between the federal, state and local governments are now in place to help prevent collisions at highway-rail grade crossings.

“We have made solid progress on the plan in just nine months,” said Mineta, adding that the Department was “on track to build on this solid safety progress in 2006.”