CSX to spend $17.6M on area’s tracks

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer released a report last week on railroad company CSX Corp.’s planned $45 mi

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer released a report last week on railroad company CSX Corp.’s planned $45 million plan to upgrade and improve its tracks in New York state, $17.6 million of which will be spent on tracks in the Capital Region.

Schumer met with CSX CEO Michael Ward last week to discuss the need for improved safety on CSX tracks.

According to Schumer, CSX will spend $17.6 million on 837 miles of track in the Capital Region.

The Federal Railroad Administration told CSX Transportation last month that the railroad would have to pay a fine of $349,265 to settle federal charges of 141 serious safety violations.

The federal investigation was launched after a series of train derailments in the Syracuse and Rochester areas, including an accident in 2006 at the DeWitt rail yard in which a CSX worker was struck and killed by a train.Federal inspectors found 3,518 safety defects during a four-day inspection in January 2007 of CSX’s operations in 23 states. The defects included 199 serious cases of noncompliance, including 13 in New York state.

Schumer’s report also indicated an additional $2.5 million will be used to weld rail joints across the state and that CSX has committed to several advanced engineering projects to be implemented in New York and other parts of the CSX rail network, including rail defect detection trucks, high speed rail testing, and other systems designed to prevent accidents and derailments by collecting data and monitoring the tracks.

“CSX appreciates that Sen. Schumer has recognized and endorsed the company’s comprehensive rail safety program for New York,” CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said.

CSX will spend 10 percent of the total amount it spends on repairs and upgrades for 2008 in New York state, although only 7.6 percent of CSX’s tracks are located in New York state, Schumer said.

Schumer said the proposed Railroad Safety Enhancement Act would stiffen penalties for negligent railroad companies. He said the U.S. Senate “is poised” to consider voting on the legislation sometime during this congressional session.

Material from the Associated Press was included in this story.

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