UP: Signal Maintainer Acted Appropriately

Federal law forbids rail employees from using electronic devices while on duty.

On July 4, a Union Pacific signal maintainer noticed something unusual in the rails that runs freight through Glenview and Northbrook. The rail worker reported his sighting to a track inspector, that killed two Glenview residents was happening.

According to Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis, despite the result of that day’s derailment, the signal maintainer acted appropriately and did just about everything he was trained to.

As part of their training, UP employees are instructed to report potential threats to rail safety officers, whether or not the observed threat falls within the employee’s area of expertise, Davis explained.

Other than track inspectors, most UP employees are not specifically trained to identify rail maladies such as the “sun kink” the company said may have caused the July 4 derailment. According to Davis, there are too many different ways rails can become misaligned.

Davis did not say whether the maintainer should have contacted someone else who might have stopped freight traffic that day, possibly saving Burt and Zorine Lindner’s lives.

But had the signal maintainer seen a more obvious problem with the track — missing parts or severely damaged rails for example — Davis said the maintainer could have called a dispatcher or the UP police directly, who could then warn trains in the area.  

Whether additional UP personnel were or should have been contacted regarding the signal maintainer’s concerns is unclear. Kevin Thompson, spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said the agency is investigating the incident and will publish its findings within a year.  

“We have the authority … to assess several penalties if we find violations or non-compliance with federal regulations,” Thompson said after the community forum Monday night. “Will we? It depends on our investigation and what we find."

"While the Union Pacific has already mentioned the possibility of a sun kink, we will take that into consideration, but that is not the only avenue we will investigate,” Thompson added.

The signal maintainer reported his observation about the track near Shermer Road via radio, according to Davis. On duty rail employees are forbidden from using other electronic devices, such as mobile camera phones, under federal law.

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Guido McGinty July 20, 2012 at 02:48 PM
"On duty rail employees are forbidden from using other electronic devices, such as mobile camera phones, under federal law." Clearly we need another law to fix this law. And when the new law fails, queue up another.
IWPCHI July 20, 2012 at 03:39 PM
We have posted an expose of the current state of the Willow Rd. railroad bridge that shows the severe deterioration of elements of that structure. There are photos and measurements of the deteriorated steel supports under the railbed of the bridge. You can find it here: http://iwpchi.wordpress.com Independent Workers Party
BP July 20, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Nice ---Shows how the ICC/FEDs are deep in the lint in the railroads pocket. This crossing was flopped over and the pooooor railroad couldn't get a double stack rail car under it WE would be spending $10 million to fix the problem. The state stips across the country are full of these bogus projects costing us billions. http://www.icc.illinois.gov/railroad/crossing.aspx?dotId=174131J ICC took these in 2002 as far as I can tell. The funds for these worthless pictures which were carefully taken to not show the problems (especially sight lines at level crossings) probably came from the grade crossing protection fund keeping signals from going in at no signaled crossings which the railroads love in their cheaper to kill them business practices.
BP July 20, 2012 at 08:33 PM
http://www.rmiondemand.com/solutions/railroads/signal_maintenance Actually the tax payers illegally pay for the """PRIVATE""" railroads signal peoples devices through their FRA buds which makes the info PUBLIC. The government/railroad fraud was reported to the FBI by me years ago but I guess the FBI is a might slow responding. Try to log in a couple times and see how fast your computer is whacked.
Jim Gerard December 04, 2012 at 09:32 PM
HazMat Experts and Firefighters petition Dow Chemical and Union Pacific for safe rail tank cars transporting gas chlorine. Secondary containment is a necessary improvement that must be implemented. See--PETITION C KIT for First Responders Comments.


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