Rail inspection canceled after carrier complaint

August 16, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES H — LOS ANGELES -- The federal chief of railroad safety in the West abruptly canceled an inspection of Southern Pacific freight cars after a company official complained that a previous inspection -- which found chronic locomotive defects -- had hurt the carrier financially.

H. T. "Tom" Paton, regional director of the Federal Railroad Administration, said he called off the June 23 inspection at Colton, Calif., even though four agency reviews earlier in the month found that 83 percent of Southern Pacific's locomotives were defective.

Mr. Paton said he made the decision after Southern Pacific's chief mechanical officer telephoned him at home to complain that the carrier lost more than $1 million when rail traffic was interrupted by a three-day inspection in Tucson, Ariz., ending June 20.

Mr. Paton's comments came at a legislative hearing held in Los Angeles yesterday to address safety questions raised by two Southern Pacific derailments in California last month.

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