The discussion about how to take care of visible inspections in the experience of advancements in basic safety engineering proceeds. This time it is railroad carmen defending the relevance of visible inspections for brake testing and servicing.
Union customers are responding to Union Pacific’s ask for to the Federal Railroad Administration to increase a waiver governing UP’s check program for wheel temperature detectors (WTDs).
UP (NYSE: UNP) is asking FRA to make it possible for the use of WTDs on intermodal trains operated on segments of UP’s technique, as perfectly as lengthen the distance at which visual inspections would be executed. UP has been making use of WTDs below standard working and targeted traffic situations concerning the coal mines of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and an unloading facility at White Bluff, Arkansas.
But union members say UP’s purpose is to cut down visual inspections and save on overhead prices.
WTDs are “actually a valuable machine that is clearly beneficial as a enhance to the inspections, but [the technology is] actually about detecting the temperature on the rail,” Regan instructed FreightWaves. WTDs have “to be used as a complement to the inspections. A man or woman is experienced to see wherever there may be a defect, exactly where there could be a trouble down the street and what may possibly need to have to be enhanced or upgraded or changed in the in close proximity to potential. This gadget can’t do that.”
TTD also argued in a February letter to FRA that UP unsuccessful to assemble and give any proof for critique that the waiver must be renewed.
“Without any beneficial facts from UP’s Check Waiver Committee to support the extension, we do not imagine that the ongoing use of WTD technological know-how is a harmless and satisfactory substitute for physical inspections by skilled Carmen,” Regan stated in the February letter.
Regan advised FreightWaves that FRA rejected UP’s waiver extension requests in 2014, 2017 and 2021.
FRA mentioned its protection board denied UP’s petition in July 2021 because the railroad did not offer sufficient knowledge and examination absolutely demonstrating the claimed safety gains.
“We think that the concentration of bringing new technological innovation into a generations outdated market like railroading … [should be] on creating railroads safer. It has to be a enhance to what the personnel do. It has to make it so that personnel who are remarkably qualified and remarkably experienced at what they do are specified more resources to do their jobs in the most secure doable method,” Regan stated.
He ongoing, “We welcome these improvements. We want to make our occupation safer. We want to make absolutely sure that the union that the staff have every instrument at their disposal to do their jobs correctly. But this is not the way to do that. Asking for waivers is not the way to do it properly and to make sure that it’s implemented in a accountable way.”
The debate about WTDs is similar to the one particular that unionized routine maintenance-of-way personnel are possessing with the railroads around how the railroads need to deploy keep track of geometry technologies, a ingredient of automatic observe inspections. They contend that BNSF’s (NYSE: BRK.K) request to FRA to grow that technology’s deployment to two extra territories is an possibility to minimize the selection of visual inspections in people territories.
Union Pacific defends use of WTDs
But UP says WTD engineering has caught flaws that visual inspections have skipped.
“The use of technology is an chance for Union Pacific to enhance on its potent basic safety report. Our initial conclusions indicate that wheel temperature detectors determine much more defects than classic detection procedures, which interprets into a safer procedure for equally the general public and our workforce,” UP explained to FreightWaves.
“The use of this know-how will not get rid of visible inspections by qualified personnel. The wheel temperature detectors change the frequency of when a take a look at is demanded, doing away with unnecessary brake checks and allowing for our inspectors and prepare crews to aim interest on these brakes that warrant awareness,” UP stated.
The Affiliation of American Railroads, which has lent its assistance to UP’s waiver requests, reported it supports its members’ drive to go after protection maximizing systems such as WTDs.
WTDs identify cars and trucks with ineffective brakes at a higher price than a manually performed intermediate brake exam, AAR stated. As a final result, the technologies expedites the fix or substitution of 1000’s of freight car or truck brakes that might not have if not been straight away recognized underneath existing FRA regulations.
AAR also reported that all vehicles discovered by a wheel temperature detector experienced presently handed a manually-carried out FRA first terminal brake examination.
FRA is even now examining UP’s waiver. But it has reported that there is nothing to protect against a railroad from using WTDs or “hot wheel detectors” to ensure brake health success. These types of systems can accurately identify if brakes are doing the job effectively in serious time, in accordance to FRA.
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