The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis released new statistics this week showing across-the-board improvement in U.S. railroad safety.
The new figures show that in this year's first seven months, train accidents were down 30.9% from the corresponding period in 2008 to 1,041; collisions dropped 31.8% to 73; derailments were off 32.8% to 738; and yard accidents declined 34.3% to 541.
Track causes were blamed for 344 train accidents, down 33.7%; signal causes for 28, down 3.4%; and human factors for 349, down 34.2%.
Highway-rail grade crossing accidents and trespassing incidents caused most of the 404 fatalities in this year's January-July period, a total that was down 20.2% from last year. There were 139 crossing fatalities this year, down 13.1%, and 248 trespassing fatalities, down 6.6%.
The 718 large and small railroads included in the FRA survey reported 12 employee fatalities this year compared with 14 in the same period last year.
Wabtec Corp. announced Friday that has further diversified by acquiring Uifin International from Koch Chemical Technology Group LLC for $93 million. Unifin has annual sales of about $45 million from the manufacture of cooling systems and related equipment for the power generation and transmission industry.
"Unifin is a strategic complement to our Young Touchstone business unit, which is already well established in the industrial cooling systems market," said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec's president and chief executive officer. "The combination of our existing products and technology with Unifin's product line and aftermarket presence strengthens our worldwide position in the industrial cooling systems market, which we believe offers long-term stability and growth potential. In addition, this acquisition further diversifies Wabtec's business model into an adjacent market where we have proven technology and experience. We plan to continue to explore other niche opportunities worldwide to expand our cooling systems business."
Unifin has about 100 employees at three facilities, two in the U.S. and one in Canada, where it designs and manufactures a variety of cooling systems and related components, including oil coolers and pumps.
Canadian Pacific intermodal Test Train No. 110-30 passed through Alyth Yard, Calgary, Alberta, late Thursday as it continued its test run from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Toronto. It's the longest, heaviest intermodal train CP has ever operated, railroad spokesman Mark Seland confirmed to Railway Age.
The train, 12,000 feet long—2.3 miles—was too long to fit in one of Alyth's ‘P’ yard tracks, so it stayed on the main line. At Calgary, the consist totaled 119 intermodal loads on 165 platforms, and five locomotives, two on the head end and three single units spread through the consist as wireless Distributed Power Units:
CP 9709, CP 9539, 49 loads, CP 8511, 33 loads, CP 8710, 37 loads, CP 8789—119 loads, 0 empties, 11,412 tons, 12,002 feet, and 21,920 hp.
are placed approximately 4,000 feet apart, with the last DPU on the rear
of the train.
“This the most number of remote locomotive positions in a radio distributed power train we have ever operated,” Seland said. "It's the furthest distance we have run between a lead and tailend remote. It's also the heaviest eastbound train we have run out of Coquitlam to Calgary. The train has been running since Wednesday with no issues."
CP Test Train No. 110-30 was expected to arrive at Toronto's Vaughan Intermodal Terminal midafternoon Sunday, Oct. 4.
Photos of CP's intermodal test train north of Toronto by James A. Brown. Mr. Brown is the retired executive director of operations for GO Transit.
North Carolina’s Department of Transportation Thursday announced it had been awarded eight Federal Railroad Administration grants of more than $9 million. The funds will be used for track and safety improvements.
“These grants make it possible for us to improve capacity, reliability, and safety as we continue to modernize our state’s railroads,” said Transportation Secretary Gene Conti. “We look forward to strengthening our partnerships with municipalities, freight, and short line railroads as more grant funding becomes available for continued development of rail infrastructure.”
These eight grants will upgrade rail for heavier trains, reimburse recovery costs associated with Hurricane Hanna, advance locomotive emissions research, develop environmental documents and engineering for new grade separations, streamline freight operations to minimize congestion, and make safety improvements to private crossings on the federally designated Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, one of 10 candidates for $8 billion in federal stimulus funds targeted for high speed rail development.