A new program to deploy federal railroad inspectors to safety hot spots will begin early this year. The program, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Rail Safety Action Plan, will use accident data to identify rail safety problems for specific railroads and states.
Federal inspectors will focus their efforts where safety issues are more likely to arise so they can be corrected before a serious train accident occurs, said Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.
Over the coming months, the DOT will also deploy two new track inspection vehicles, tripling the number of miles of track inspected each year. It will also propose a new federal rule to address common human errors that lead to train accidents, such as improperly lined switches, and undertake research into train operator fatigue, near misses and the strength of hazardous materials tank cars.
The safety plan can be found at www.dot.gov/affairs/frasafetyplan012506.htm.