Promises Made. Promises Kept. – The Signal – 1/29

Subject: Promises Made. Promises Kept. – The Signal – 1/29

Railroads are keeping the promises they made after East Palestine.

In their commitment to a comprehensive safety culture, railroads have diligently undertaken proactive measures to enhance rail safety following the incident in East Palestine, Ohio, last year. These voluntary initiatives, shaped by insights gained from the incident, were executed without external regulatory or congressional mandates. The objective is to minimize the likelihood of similar incidents in the future while continuing to make the entire network safer.

Below are the promises railroads made and details of how they kept them.

Increase the frequency of detectors on key routes.  Railroads have deployed hundreds of new detectors, which will be complemented by additional existing and evolving technologies targeted at effectively identifying bearing defects.

Analyze trending programs to develop uniform recommendations for proactively identifying problematic bearings. At the end of 2023, following an intensive review of different algorithms by Railinc, railroads finalized a new, industry-wide trending analysis rule.

Train 20,000 first responders in local communities and SERTC will train 2,000 responders. In 2023, Class I railroads trained 35,500 first responders, and SERTC offered specialized training to 1,800 responders. They also developed online programs for national access.

Set a new standard to stop trains and inspect bearings whenever an HBD reading exceeds 170°. Effective July 1, AAR rules lowered the threshold to remove a car from 200° to 170°.

Join the FRA’s voluntary program to supplement railroads’ own confidential reporting programs. Railroads continue to affirm their commitment to working through the outstanding issues surrounding C3RS.

Double the number of first responders with access to AskRail by partnering with all 50 state fire associations. AskRail now reaches over 2.3 million first responders through collaboration with CHEMTREC, CANUTEC and nearly 200 Emergency Communications Centers.

Identify ways to improve the fire performance for tank cars and other service equipment.  AAR’s tank car committee is working through engineering solutions and has issued new recommendations for bottom valve protection requirements to increase safety.

Deep Dive
How does the AskRail app support responders?

TRANSCAER (Transportation Community Awareness Emergency Response) is an important partner to the rail industry and emergency responders. Since 1986, the organization has trained emergency responders to prepare for, and respond to, hazardous material transportation incidents.

In the latest video from their “Seconds Count” series, TRANSCAER provides an overview of the AskRail app, its features and testimonials from first responders who have used the app during an incident.

Highly Relevant
BNSF employees clear snow from the tracks.

We here at The Signal usually only think about snow when we look at the OMB app to see if DC is shut down. It’s a different story for freight railroads, which think about winter weather year-round to ensure they are prepared to continue safely moving their customers’ freight even as temperatures plunge. For example, as part of their nearly $23 billion in annual investments, railroads restore, upgrade and acquire new winter equipment and technology – from employee “blizzard busses” to custom snow plows.