FRA to Class Is: Be Careful When Building Longer Trains

Last week, the federal regulator advised Class Is to be more considerate when building and operating longer freight trains. Photo by Justin Franz. 

FRA to Class Is: Be Careful When Building Longer Trains

By Justin Franz 

The Federal Railroad Administration is telling Class I railroads to be more considerate would building longer freight trains. 

The Safety Advisory, issued on April 27, stated that there had been at least three derailments on Class I railroads in recent months that were caused by long and heavy freight trains, ones that were at least 12,250 feet long and weighed over 17,000 trailing tons. Those derailments occurred in Springfield and Ravenna, Ohio and Rockwell, Iowa, on Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific respectively. 

Besides train handling challenges and issues of physics, another downside to running longer freight trains, the agency noted, was communication issues between the head end of a train and an EOT, or end-of-train device. These longer trains also frequently block crossings when waiting to enter or exit terminals; facilities built in an era when trains tended to be shorter. 

While the agency didn’t prohibit longer trains, it encouraged companies to take steps to ensure the practice was done safely and did not negatively impact surrounding communities. 

This article was posted on: May 2, 2023