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Published: Tuesday, 2/6/2007

Propane tank car struck in CSX yard

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A train of cars being pushed by a remotely controlled locomotive ran through the end of its track and struck an empty propane tank car in a second train at CSX's Stanley Yard in Lake Township early yesterday.

No one was hurt and no hazardous materials were released, but the accident occurred about 2:10 a.m. on a day when The Blade published a story describing railroad workers' complaints about remote-control safety at CSX's Toledo-area railyards.

Gary Sease, a CSX Transportation Corp. spokesman, said two empty tank cars were struck in a "slight collision" at the yard and that neither derailed.

Rod Bloedow, local chairman for Division 937 of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said the train that was struck had an engineer on board. The moving train was controlled remotely by a crewman standing on a nearby hill - or hump - over which freight cars are switched into trains using gravity for sorting.

A second employee was closer to where the collision occurred and realized the remotely controlled train was going too fast, Mr. Bloedow said. But the employee was not able to alert the remote-control operator in time to prevent the crash. That employee, known as a "utility man," did not have a control box for the remote control.

Mr. Sease said the brief report he had received about the accident did not provide that level of detail. But as he had said in an interview for the story published yesterday, Mr. Sease said CSX has specific rules requiring train movements to have "point protection" - someone watching the leading end of any move.

The CSX spokesman also reiterated that, when used in accordance with company rules, "remote control is as safe as, or safer than, conventional [train-car] switching."

The collision occurred within a few hundred yards of a State Rt. 795 bridge over Stanley Yard, but Eric Larson, the Lake Township fire chief, said authorities were not alerted.

"It would not have hurt them to call us and let us know, because it was an LP [propane] car," Chief Larson said.

CSX last month agreed to notify fire officials about all events involving hazardous materials, whether or not emergency assistance is needed.



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