CSX Pays $350,000 in Accident Fines; Statistics Show the Railroad Is Getting Safer

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Byline: DAVID HUNT

CSX Corp. has paid nearly $350,000 in fines to resolve 141 safety violations uncovered in a Federal Railroad Administration probe prompted by several high-profile accidents in New York and Kentucky.

The Jacksonville-based transportation company could be paying more pending the outcome of an upcoming settlement hearing on 25 additional infractions.

The federal agency inspected track and equipment throughout CSX's 21,000-mile network between Jan. 19-22, 2007.

Although the investigation was triggered by a series of crashes that caused chemical fires and, in one case, killed an employee, CSX spokesman Gary Sease said statistics show the railroad has been growing safer.

In the fiscal year ending October 2007, CSX trains were involved in an average 2.78 accidents for every million miles the trains traveled. The number has become progressively lower since 2004's average of 4.48.

"It's a paradox really," Sease said. "We had a significant improvement in 2007."

No violations were recorded in Jacksonville, although investigators found defective tracks in Pensacola and several problems in Waycross and Ware Couny, Ga., including a broken running board and partially failing brakes.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Boardman issued a statement with the investigative results, saying, "CSX cannot make this a one-time fix. The railroad must stay focused and not be distracted from making the necessary long-term investments in infrastructure, technology and employees that will strengthen its safety culture and performance. …