CSX committed safety violations, regulator says Federal review comes after 5 incidents

railroad says it will get new system

Transportation

October 17, 1997|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- CSX Transportation Inc. committed numerous safety violations related to signal and train control, handling of hazardous materials, crew management and maintenance of tracks and bridges, a federal railroad regulator said in a report released yesterday.

The Federal Railroad Administration said that based on its observations and employee testimony, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad unit of CSX Corp., "like most [other] big railroads, is characterized in some quarters by an adversarial safety culture." The report "identifies examples of this culture, instances in which line managers made decisions about train operations which compromised safety."

In its conclusion, the FRA said safety first "is not universally observed" and that in some cases there was evidence that managers attempted to harass and intimidate employees who raised safety concerns.

Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene Molitoris, in Jacksonville for the report's release, said a railroad's "ability to eliminate safety hazards and promote prevention of injuries, collisions and derailments, depends upon an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect, and openness."

The federal review came on the heels of five separate incidents involving CSX trains this summer, including a CSX rear-end collision near St. Albans, W.Va., that resulted in one fatality.

CSX said it would review its testing and inspection program and put a new system into place by Jan. 1.

The company also said it would improve its handling of hazardous materials and address FRA concerns about supervision of rail crews.

"We are committed to working with the FRA and rail labor to correct all safety issues identified in the report," CSX Chairman John Snow said.

Safety could be a nettlesome issue for regulators reviewing CSX's acquisition of some of Conrail Inc.

In April, Norfolk Southern Corp. and CSX agreed to divide Conrail Inc.'s assets and routes, bringing a months-long $10.2 billion battle for Conrail to a resolution.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which has jurisdiction over railroad mergers, has said it will take safety issues into account when determining whether to approve the Conrail split.

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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