In Defense of the FRA

I don’t often feel the need to defend our industry’s regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration. Part of that is me. Like many who have stumbled into a career in this industry (and I literally stumbled my way into railroad employment, half-blinded and three-quarters frozen by a blizzard in Chicago), I’ve always had a problem with authority. Not that I begrudge anyone his or her authority, title, rate of pay—any of that stuff. I just don’t like other people telling me what to do, and I positively hate it when others think they need to tell me what to do.

Rail Safety, Skateboards and Google

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE: On Aug. 14, the ESPN show ¿Highly Questionable? showed a video clip of a skateboarder sliding underneath a moving passenger locomotive, riding the rail on the skateboard and then sliding back out from underneath the train before the second wheelset (1). (The clip can be seen starting at about 16:30 into the video.) The hosts were suitably shocked and aghast over the audacity of the act of sliding underneath a locomotive and unsurprisingly thoughtless about the carelessness of the rider.

PTC’s 50th Anniversary? Give Me a Break, NTSB

We’re celebrating a whole lot this year. We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, recognizing the right of women to vote. I know a few of us are celebrating the 155th anniversary of Sherman’s March to the Sea, breaking the back of the Slaveholders’ Rebellion.

Medical fitness-for-duty standards: Where are they?

“According to the BNSF employment records for the 52-year old male striking train engineer, a pre-employment physical examination and health questionnaire dated June 28, 1994, identified no significant medical conditions.” Hold that thought.

WSDOT to retire Talgo trainsets

In the wake of the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the 2017 Amtrak Cascades train 501 wreck on the Point Defiance bypass near DuPont, Wash., that killed three and injured 57, WSDOT (Washington State DOT) said it “will work with Amtrak to follow the NTSB recommendation to remove the [Cascades service] Talgo Series 6 trainsets from service as soon as possible.”

derailment crude oil Iowa

NTSB cites retrofit tank cars in preliminary report on Iowa derailment

A June derailment that spilled crude oil in Iowa involved older tank cars retrofitted to newer safety standards, federal investigators found.

Asking the difficult question

You know what? I kind of like National Transportation Safety Board member Earl F. Weener, who has been an NTSB member since 2010.

Amtrak 91 Cayce wreck with CSX

The only way to be sure

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a Draft Safety Advisory, 2018-01, Related to Temporary Signal Suspensions. For the first time I can recall, FRA is soliciting public comment “on all aspects of the Draft Safety Advisory.”

National Transportation Safety Board

Trump nominates Homendy for NTSB

President Trump announced his intention to nominate Jennifer L. Homendy to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

David Schanoes

Safety won’t improve with incomplete, inaccurate data

What a world. FRA is on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. NTSB is on Twitter and YouTube, and might be on Facebook, but I don’t know since the NTSB website doesn’t say one way or another, and I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, and not, to my knowledge on YouTube, or if I am, it’s not my doing, I promise.