CSX hires consultant to improve safety

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – CSX Transportation, whose train accident and employee injury record has been deteriorating for five years, has hired a consulting firm to assess its safety programs and aims to hire a chief safety operating officer.

“I believe, and have repeatedly stated, that safety is CSX’s top priority,” CEO Jim Foote said in a statement on Friday. “We look forward to this independent assessment where we will learn about areas of opportunity to further enhance our safety performance to be the best in the industry.”

CSX announced that DEKRA, an international safety consulting firm, will perform a comprehensive assessment to help the railroad improve safety for employees, customers, and communities in which it operates.

The evaluation process will begin next month and should be completed by fall, CSX said.

Foote told investors at the railroad’s annual meeting earlier this month that the railroad would step up its safety efforts after a series of high-profile accidents, including the fatal collision of Amtrak’s Silver Star and a parked CSX train in South Carolina in February.

"Because of the incidents earlier this year, I thought we needed additional help," Foote said. The railroad will soon hire a chief safety officer.

CSX reported 1.11 personal injuries per 200,000 man-hours in first quarter this year, which ranked third among the Class I railroads. "That is unacceptable and we will get better," Foote said.

CSX’s train accident rate increased 73 percent from 2013 through 2017, while the employee personal injury frequency rate rose 38 percent over the same five-year period, according to a review of the safety figures the railroad reports quarterly alongside its financial results.

CSX’s train accident rate – the lowest among the Class I railroads in 2013 – was the highest among the big six systems in 2017, according to FRA data. It now stands at about the level it was a decade ago.

The vast majority of CSX’s train accidents, as holds true for the industry as a whole, occurred at low speed in yards and did not involve injuries or significant damage, the FRA data show.

But high-profile wrecks – like the Silver Star collision and the derailment of a long train that forced the evacuation of 900 residents of Hyndman, Pa., in August 2017 – often indicate deeper safety problems, railroad safety experts say.

Earlier this year, FRA was becoming increasingly concerned with safety trends at CSX.
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