(From Trains.com) When a misaligned switch sent Amtrak’s Silver Star barreling into a parked CSX Transportation train in South Carolina last week, killing two Amtrak crewmen and injuring more than 100 passengers, it was a tragic example of rising accident rates at the freight railroad.
CSX’s train accident and personal injury rates both rose last year, by 12 percent and 13 percent, respectively, amid the broad operational and management changes made by then-CEO E. Hunter Harrison.
The Federal Railroad Administration is becoming increasingly concerned with safety trends at CSX, according to people familiar with the matter.
The FRA believes the rapid pace of change at CSX over the past year — in the executive suite, to front-line operating personnel, and to operating rules — has increased the risk of accidents and injuries at the railroad, the sources said.
The entire railroad is under tremendous pressure to deliver on promises made to shareholders and shippers regarding improved financial and operational performance under Precision Scheduled Railroading.
“And that pressure does not just exist at the board level,” according to a safety expert. “It goes all the way down to the guy that is responsible for operating the locomotive or doing the inspections.”