This article is taken from NGFA's May 5th newsletter.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a safety advisory on May 1 recommending railroads take precautions with longer trains.
“Freight-train length, particularly for Class I railroads, has increased in recent years,” the advisory noted.
“The operation of longer trains presents different, more complex, operational challenges, which can be exacerbated by the weight and makeup of the trains.”
FRA identified three significant incidents that have occurred since 2022 involving trains with more than 200 cars, where train handling and train makeup is believed to have contributed to the incidents.
These incidents in Springfield, Ohio; Ravenna, Ohio; and Rockwell, Iowa, involved trains that were 12,250 feet or longer and weighed over 17,000 trailing tons.
The FRA and the National Academies of Sciences are conducting separate research studies on trains comprised of up to 200 cars and trains longer than 7,500 feet.
In the meantime, the safety advisory is meant to “ensure railroads and railroad employees are aware of the potential complexities involved in the operation of longer trains,” the agency stated.
FRA recommended railroads work to prevent communications losses between end-of-train devices, lessen the impacts long trains may have on blocked crossings, and review operating rules and locomotive engineer certification programs.