Stories Target CSX Crossing Crash Reports; the New York Times Investigated Fatal Railroad Crossing Accidents

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY RICHARDS, The Times-Union

CSX Corp. repeatedly broke the law over the past decade by failing to report grade crossing fatalities to the federal government, according to stories run on the front page of the Sunday and Monday editions of The New York Times.

The stories, the first and second installments of a seven-month Times investigation into railroad crossing fatalities, also criticized the government for not doing enough to enforce its regulations.

In Sunday's story, CSX was found to be second only to Union Pacific, for failing to report eight fatal crossing accidents in 2003 to the National Response Center, which begins the investigation process. It blames the missteps on an "administrative error." But the story's focus was on Union Pacific and its handling of crossing accidents, which include failing to report 46 fatal accidents in 2003.

Monday's story shifted the spotlight to Jacksonville-based CSX and primarily focused on its actions surrounding a 1997 crash that left 17-year-old Hilary Feaster dead after the car she was driving collided with a 34-car CSX train in her hometown of Decherd, Tenn. If CSX had reported to the Federal Railroad Administration a 1993 crash at the same location that killed two teenage boys, a state transportation official quoted in the story said, crossing gates might have been installed, adding another layer of safety.

Both in the stories and in an interview with the Times-Union Monday, CSX spokesman Adam Hollingsworth defended his company's actions and said that additional processes and procedures had been put in place to prevent future occurrences.

"We're disappointed with the series," he said. "The series does not reflect CSX's commitment to safety and policy of reporting all accidents in a timely and accurate fashion in accordance with federal regulations. …