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Orange County, California

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John Bisnar
John Bisnar
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Safety Advisory on Railroad Maintenance Equipment

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The Federal Railroad Administration on Friday issued a safety advisory to railroad industry owners and operators urging them to ensure that specialized maintenance equipment is only operated by fully qualified individuals and is properly inspected.

Last week’s warning came in response to a deadly derailment in November 2006 involving a rail grinder train, according to a press release posted on the agency’s Web site, www.fra.dot.gov.

According to officials, the maintenance-of-way (MOW) train derailed 10 of its 13 cars while traveling from Sparks, Nevada, to Bakersfield, California. As a result, two employees of a rail services contractor were fatally injured.

FRA’s preliminary investigation of the accident revealed that neither of the train’s operators was familiar with the specific rail line they were operating over. In addition, federal inspectors found numerous mechanical defects on the MOW train.

FRA administrator Joseph H. Boardman says his agency will no longer tolerate such negligence.

“I cannot emphasize enough the responsibility and necessity of railroads and contractors that use these vehicles to operate them in the safest manner possible,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for careless mistakes that needlessly cause harm or injury to workers, contractors or the public at large.”

He further added that if industry members do not take corrective action, the FRA may be prompted to “pursue other corrective measures available under its safety authority and jurisdiction.”

Is this what the FRA calls “zero tolerance”? “May be prompted” to take corrective action? You’ve got to be kidding me! Isn’t that why regulatory governmental agencies exist? Why must innocent people die or get seriously injured for us to get a mere response from these guys?

Here are some scary statistics when it comes to train accidents. Every year there are approximately 3,000 train accidents. Every year approximately 1,000 people will die as a result of these accidents. And almost every two weeks a train derailment causes a chemical spill, leading up to evacuations of local residents.

My opinion is that the FRA is taking too long to react to these incidents and it’s affecting people’s lives. Collisions and derailments may occur for a number of reasons. Engineer negligence, inadequate rail maintenance and unsafe operators have all been blamed for train wrecks. Not only that, the Federal railroad laws are more designed to protect the railroads from liability than they are to protect the public injured by railroad company negligence.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident, auto crash or an accident that occurred as a result of a defective product contact a railroad savvy attorney through the “Ask An Attorney” inquiry form on the upper right hand corner of this page or at InjuryBoard.com.