“While HBDs have been in use for a long time, it is relatively recently that software and data processing have led to the ability to proactively identify bearings that have not yet exceeded absolute temperature thresholds but that, based on HBD trending data, may become problematic and should be addressed,” AAR said. “Each Class I railroad now uses trending analysis, but there are a variety of approaches employed by the Class I railroads to accomplish this goal. The Class I railroads are reviewing the trending analyses programs each uses and have targeted March 31 to arrive at recommendations regarding the use of trending analyses.”
- Participate in the Department of Transportation’s program that provides a hotline for workers to anonymously provide tips on operational concerns.
- Bolster training efforts: The rail industry will facilitate the training of 2,000 first responders at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center in Pueblo, Colorado. The industry also expects to train roughly 20,000 first responders on accident mitigation.
- Increase participation of first responders and fire associations in the AskRail app, which AAR says provides real-time information about the contents of every car in a train and the safe handling of those contents in the event of an accident.
- Consider additional tank car improvements: AAR’s tank car committee will accelerate its research into the use of heat-resistant gaskets for tank cars transporting flammable liquid. AAR says the committee expects to expand its examination to consider all fire performance improvements to service equipment.
“Our long history of voluntarily employing safety measures that go above and beyond federal requirements proves our belief in that principle,” AAR President and CEO said. “While we will continue to follow the National Transportation Safety Board’s ongoing investigation in Ohio closely and recognize its deliberate, methodical and fact-based approach, railroads are committed to taking appropriate steps now.”
On the same day of AAR’s announcement, NS (NYSE: NSC) said it would be creating a new regional training center in Ohio for first responders, as well as expanding the company’s operational awareness and response (OAR) program. This program trains first responders who would be involved in any incidents on NS’ 22-state network.
The regional training center would be for emergency responders in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the greater region, according to NS, while the OAR program will travel from state to state. NS expects the program to make 12 stops in 2023, with four scheduled in Ohio.
“These commitments are the direct result of my conversations with [Ohio] Gov. All leaders to better support the first responders and their communities,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO said in a news release. “First responders are often immediately on the scene of a rail incident, and we want to ensure they have the knowledge and tools to work safely and effectively to protect the health and safety of their fellow citizens.”
CSX details safety initiatives
Earlier this week, CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) separately outlined some of what it is doing to bolster rail safety.
Those activities have included updating its hot bearing detector network and acoustic bearing detectors network with second-generation technology; installing three automated inspection portals on high-volume main lines to detect defects as a train is in motion; using autonomous track assessment cars to gather data on track conditions; deploying drones to map rail yards, inspect facilities and facilitate storm responses, among other items; and growing its workforce, including the hiring of more than 2,000 conductors last year.
CSX also uses advanced risk assessment technology annually to determine the shortest and safest routes to transport goods categorized as hazardous. The railroad also says it has been conducting hazardous materials training events for first responders, contractors and government officials.
CSX added that it will spend $1.7 billion out of a total of $2.3 billion budget on track, bridge and signal projects in 2023.
“CSX understands that safety is the foundation of our business, which depends upon our ability to work collaboratively as a ‘One CSX’ team to deliver customers’ freight safely, reliably and sustainably,” CSX President and CEO said in a news release. “Everything we do at our company is centered around our recognition that the safety of our employees and the communities where we operate is paramount.”
A CSX train derailed in Sandstone, West Virginia, when it struck a rock slide while on the track. CSX said it is working with responding agencies and has taken safety measures to ensure any leaked diesel fuel from the derailment doesn’t harm the local environment. CSX also said two out of the three crew members remain hospitalized and are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.