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At FRA Prompting Wisconsin Central Railroad Signs Agreement to Improve Safety

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today signed a Safety Compliance Agreement with the Wisconsin Central Railroad to improve railroad safety throughout the railroad's four-state, 3000-mile transportation network. The agreement becomes effective tomorrow. Under the agreement, the Wisconsin Central Railroad will take specific steps to improve track and equipment inspection, training measures, and operating practices.

"This agreement requires the railroad to take extra measures to ensure its compliance with federal regulations that provide for the safety of rail transportation throughout the Wisconsin Central Railroad network," FRA Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris said. "In our discussions with the management of Wisconsin Central, the railroad agreed to address the underlying conditions most likely to create a safety hazard on their railroad. At the FRA, our ultimate goal is zero train accidents, fatalities and injuries. Today's agreement is a giant step in that direction."

In addition to the FRA's normal inspection program on the Wisconsin Central, the FRA conducted a safety audit of the railroad's operations in the spring of 1996. It also conducted a special safety audit in the fall of 1996 in connection with the railroad's plans to expand operation of one-person crews and initiate the use of remote control operations.

Information from these audits showed that the railroad's accident rate for 1996 is nearly double all other U.S. railroads and 72 percent greater than all other railroads in its category. This, combined with two derailments in December and January in Riplinger, Wis., led the FRA to conclude that strict remedial measures were necessary immediately.

Wisconsin Central's management and directors cooperated with the FRA on all aspects of the development of this agreement and is prepared to work with the FRA in implementing the identified safety measures.

Key requirements of the agreement call for:

-- Certified track and equipment inspections;

-- Improving training programs for all track and equipment personnel with

subsequent certification by management that all are adequately trained;

-- Submitting a track maintenance plan and program for 1997 and 1998;

-- Accelerating operational tests and inspections of operating rules and

special instructions;

-- Suspending use of one-person train crews, except for movements of light

locomotives and operations in industrial plants; and

-- Refraining from all remote control operations throughout the Wisconsin

Central network, except operations in industrial plants.

The railroad has also committed to increase its capital spending on its physical plant. If the railroad does not comply with agreement, FRA would immediately issue a compliance order. The FRA this week sent a team of safety inspectors to ensure full compliance with federal railroad safety regulations and the agreement.

Copies of the FRA-Wisconsin Central Safety Agreement are available from the FRA Office of Public Affairs at 202-632-3124.

An electronic version of this document can be obtained via the World Wide Web at:

SOURCE U.S. Department of Transportation
 -0- 2/7/97

/CONTACT: David A. Bolger of the Federal Railroad Administration, 202-632-3124, or pager, 800-800-9724/

CO: U.S. Department of Transportation; Federal Railroad Administration ST: Wisconsin, District of Columbia IN: TRN SU: EXE

JO-JN -- DCF031 -- 3008 02/07/97 18:46 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 7, 1997
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