Sunday, September 13, 2015

Long RR tradition lives on: outsiders can drop dead

The old railroad barons may have passed on, but their up-yours tradition to outsiders lives on:
Asked for info on bridge conditions, railroad carrying Bakken crude tells cities no
Bridges must be inspected annually by railroads. But railroads are not required to submit the information to the federal agency. Railroads also are not required to make the information available to the public. 
Which works well for the companies running trains through Wisconsin, where policy-makers have decided that one state rail inspector for 4,500 crossings and 3,000 miles of track suffices as the state's rail safety front line.
'Old Rusty,' a nearly-century old rail bridge in downtown Milwaukee, is getting some company-paid reinforcement to its pillars. 


Anonymous said...

You are just wrong, but no surprise here, you use MJS as a source! AMTRAK lines are inspected and then certified. This is some of the best track in America And the line is certified for 80 mph, but not on that section as its coming to the station and is within the city that imposes a speed limit.

But the track there is precisely maintained and if you looked, you can see for yourself. This line is regularly surfaces with track grinders and the rails are so precisely in gauge and aligned that you can see that the wheels of each and every train, EVEN OVER THAT BRIDGE, exactly ride on and polish a very narrow section of the railhead. Each wheel precisely slings on what is called the "ball" of the wheel.

Do some research, please. It is disappointing when "journalists write about things they never took the time you to understand. Why are you implying one of Amtrak's most densely used corridors, the Hiawatha line, is unsafe and dangerous!

James Rowen said...

To Anony. 6:25 p.m.The RR would not be reinforcing the bridge supports if they didn't merit the fix. The issue is the bridge.

Cheryl Nenn said...

Jim is right. Canadian Pacific has stated they are going to encapsulate that bridge in concrete due to the deterioration of the steel, which has worn so thin in places that you can pretty much see through it at the base of the bridge. I'll take your word for it that the tracks looks OK and in gauge and aligned, but that means nothing if the bridge falls from a deteriorating base. No one is putting ourselves out there as railroad bridge experts. The larger and more concerning issue is that the railroads are supposed to inspect those bridges annually, but they don't have to provide the info to the FRA or to the local cities. Railroad officials from the FRA told the Milwaukee Public Work's Committee as much. It took the Common Council and Senator Baldwin to even get someone from Canadian Pacific down there to inspect the bridge a few months back. AND, they still won't allow the City or anyone else to see the inspection report. Given that the City is responsible for evacuation plans and ensuring the safety of its citizens, that's outrageous. The Lac Megantic train that blew up outside of Montreal, killing 47 people and taking out dozens of buildings, went over "Old Rusty". People have a right to know about the condition of the tracks, and to ensure that the railroads are operating safely. Crude oil transport has been increased by 4,000% in the last 5 years, and most railroads are not up to snuff. Making matters worse, the old liquid rail cars (often called DOT-111s) are being allowed to stay on the rails until their lifetimes expire, so possibly decades. They have been shown to be the cause of many explosions throughout the country. Admittedly, some of the recent disasters have included modern rail cars, so that seems to be an additional concern. As far as Amtrak, maybe they are getting inspection reports from CP that no one else is seeing. I'm guessing not though, if the FRA doesn't have them. I think everyone is supposed to sit back and assume these private companies are adequately inspecting and maintaining these structures. If you walk underneath many of them, that seems to clearly not be the case. You should do your research too.