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 Post subject: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2024 11:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:31 pm
Posts: 71
The FRA just in the last couple days shut down a railroad in northern Oklahoma. The Blackwell Northern was shuttered due to an incredible amount of FRA violations. No training, non-certified persons operating locomotives, it's effing scary! The list goes on and on. Operating a locomotive two years out of date, incredible. And each day of each violation is another violation. They used the term "willful" that in itself means you knew you were violating the regs. I was an officer on the Southwestern Railroad in New Mexico when we had a multi fatality run away near Silver City coming down a 6% grade. They were all friends of mine. The only thing that kept it off the news was the terrible passenger wreck the same day. And if an FRA inspector tells you they will upset the apple cart they mean it! I was at the close out meeting with a Deputy Administrator of the FRA he said "if you ever see me again it won't be a good day for you". A short time later I went back to running trains. 18 months later we had another fatality caused by a contractor train crew leaving a main line switch open to the siding in 49mph territory. The crew jumped. The conductor a good friend sustained over 20 broken bones. The engineer died when he hit a tall switch stand. If they hadn't jumped they could have ridden it out. And the FRA came in and tipped the apple cart again. I saw this story from Trains on my MSN feed. Being a total luddite I don't know how to post it here.


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2024 1:37 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 2251
https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... hort-line/

and

https://railroads.dot.gov/sites/fra.dot ... ned_AB.pdf

Ex-Santa Fe branch, was part of regional South Kansas and Oklahoma RR after that, 37 miles of excepted track. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwell ... _Railroad#

They have, or had at one time, one ex-Armco Steel GP38-2 leased from Midwest Locomotive Works and one ex-C&NW/WC GP-30 from Everywhere West leasing, but the GP30 had its windows broken out. Matthew Zisi photo.


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2024 2:00 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 1110
Location: B'more Maryland
FAFO?

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If you fear the future you won't have one.
The past was the worst.


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2024 2:44 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:17 pm
Posts: 90
Ed Kapuscinski wrote:
FAFO?


I can't help but think "sloan cornell, hold my beer".


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2024 12:28 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:05 pm
Posts: 1053
Location: MA
Ed Kapuscinski wrote:
FAFO?

F*** around and find out


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2024 2:58 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 1010
Notice published in the Federal Register: Emergency Order To Prevent Operation of Trains and Other On-Track Rail Equipment on Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2024 8:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:42 am
Posts: 68
Location: Either behind my desk or on my phone
After quick look at all of the Emergency Orders (OEs) ever issued by the FRA (all 33 of them) this seems to be the only one ever issued which shuts down an entire railroad due to Operating Practice violations.

The few that involve closures are primarily track issues and the majority of EOs have to do with other issues entirely, i.e. cell phones, face masks, railcar issues etc, and are global in nature rather than aimed at a specific railroad.

Trainlawyer, about a decade ago, wrote:
Be forewarned. I am in full curmudgeon mode. This comment has raised my ire.
...in relevant part with emphasis added, wrote:
... I am all for it JUST NOT WHEN THE FRA IS STOPPING BY.

That comment alone is good cause to bar you from operating on many properties.


I think this instance proves Grandfather's point, even though the matter being discussed a decade ago did not rise to anywhere near the same level as what happened here.

In the legal profession use of the term "moreover" is often the equivalent of the words "wait for it" as used in a Facebook video clip. The second line on page three has the following sentence: "Moreover, there is evidence BNGR employees have been directed by BNGR ownership to provide FRA false information, including a false engineer certification card and false hours of service (HOS) records."

Assuming that the evidence supporting this statement is valid, that justified the extent of the EO as it shows not only that management cannot be trusted to take corrective action but also that the violations were not error but were intentional, i.e. company policy.

I think the primary takeaway here is not the specific violations which resulted in the shutdown order but the flagrant disregard for the regulations and the intentional misrepresentation to the FRA.

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Subscribing to my grandfather's philosophy that no case is so weak or cause so harebrained that somebody cannot be found to handle it in exchange for a sufficient retainer up front.


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 968
Location: Warren, PA
I think anybody that's spent any time in this industry 'hands on' rather than a hobbyist comes to a conclusion rather quickly that there's like the movie says, '1000 ways to die in the old west'. And on railroads, if you're not paying attention.

I've had, even up to current era, contacts and clients that didn't feel particularly obliged to follow FRA regulation, or follow them until they actually got caught.

It's all rather annoying until the moment you're dealing with a significant incident that, had you actually followed regulation, would have been avoided.

We're not seeing the full story here, but as pointed out, EO's are rather uncommon, and in this case, borderline unprecedented.

I've only had a handful of incidents in 30 years where I saw a situation that was clearly in violation that was a legitimate hazard, and it was nice to say 'you want to fix this voluntarily, or do i have have to make a phone call to make absolutely sure you do?' because you knew the respect for the FRA was generaly understood, particularly if reminded.


Last edited by Randy Gustafson on Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:36 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:24 pm
Posts: 110
Be interesting to FOIA the records, seems to be they pissed in someone's Cheerios. The EO having a grade crossing near miss with a hi rail is very unusual like they peeved off the local big wigs


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 9:27 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
Posts: 743
I suspect the next step is for their leases on the trackage to be cancelled. Surely this would rise to the conditions for cancellation in any lease contract I've seen.


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 Post subject: Re: FRA shuts down railroad
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 9:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:52 pm
Posts: 160
During my time with FRA, I was only involved in the aftermath of an EO, usually assisting replacement railroad management with understanding the regulatory requirements and helping “right the ship”. In most cases involving an EO (not all) individual liability is also served with individuals. In a single case, I reluctantly considered an EO, but was able to gain compliance with a compliance order and multiple recommendations for civil penalties.

FRA does not take the emergency orders lightly. The are not at the discretion of individual inspectors or mangers, but follows a process with local, FRA discipline staff directors and specialists and the Office of Chief Council. This is an authority under the secretary under 49 U.S.C. 20104. It is an absolute last resort to assure safety in only extreme cases or as a result of a significant event or critical safety issue.

MD Ramsey


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