CSX Transportation has paid nearly $350,000 for federal rail safety violations uncovered during a 23-state inspection last year, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman said the Northeast’s largest railroad had made “significant strides” in short-term improvements after a systemwide FRA inspection in January 2007 that found 3,518 safety defects, including 199 serious violations.
“But CSX cannot make this a one-time fix. The railroad must stay focused and not be distracted from making the necessary long-term investments in infrastructure, technology, and employees that will strengthen its safety culture and performance,” Boardman said in a statement.
The special FRA inspection of CSX operations was prompted by a series of accidents, including one on Dec. 14, 2006, when a CSX worker was struck and killed by a train at the DeWitt rail yard. Last March, a CSX freight train derailed near Oneida and several propane tanker cars exploded in a fireball that was visible from miles away. No one was hurt, but thousands of people were temporarily evacuated from their homes.
The Oneida case was the fifth serious upstate New York accident involving CSX rail cars in a matter of four months. At the time, federal rail safety officials said the company was not doing enough to address safety problems.
The government decided to pursue civil penalties in 166 of the 199 serious cases, including two in New York, said Steve Kulm, a FRA spokesman.
The $349,265 in penalties settled 141 of the violations. The other 25 cases remain open, he said.
Kulm said the fines were not in response to any one specific accident, but addressed the series of accidents CSX experienced.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who has called for Congress to hold hearings on CSX and its safety problems, said the company was allowed off the hook with a small penalty.
“With nearly 200 violations of federal safety and hazardous material regulations, a mere $350,000 in fines for CSX Corp. is a slap in the face to the communities who suffered from these dangerous derailments,” Schumer said.
CSX had no comment about the fines, a spokesman said.
In a statement, the company said it was committed to “continuing its strong safety improvements” through prudent long-term investments in infrastructure and technology.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX operates a 22,000-mile rail network, covering 23 states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces.
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