FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 15, 2008
After Hard-Fought Battle To Beef-Up NYS Train Safety, Schumer Secures From CSX Long-Overdue Funding And Upgrades For Rail Tracks In Every Region Of State
In Meeting with Schumer, CSX CEO Commits to Making Major Upgrades to Crumbling Rail Tracks and Investing in New Technologies to Prevent Derailments throughout the Empire State
CSX's Commitments Comes Just in the Nick of Time, as Company's String of Serious Accidents across Upstate Continued into the New Year with Multi-Car Derailment in Central NY
Schumer Releases Report Detailing New Funding and Upgrades for Every Region: Western NY part of 607 Miles of Track to Receive $22.8M, Rochester Region 280 Miles of Track to Receive $12.4M, Central NY part of 714 Miles of Track to Receive $20.5M, Cap Region part of 837 Miles of Track to Receive $17.6M, Hudson Valley 350 Miles of Track to Receive $8.5M; North Country part of 253 miles of Track to Receive $5.5M
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that after years of fighting for CSX to invest in the train company’s crumbling tracks across New York State, CSX has committed to spending over $45 million in upgrades for train tracks across the state. With CSX’s pattern of egregious rail accidents continuing into 2008, Schumer held a face-to-face meeting with company CEO Michael Ward and secured actual dollar commitments and new technology initiatives from the company that will prevent future accidents and derailments across every region of the state.
Schumer today released a detailed report showing how much funding rail tracks in each area of the state of stand to receive.
“After years of fighting for CSX to invest in the company’s crumbling tracks across New York State, this funding is a slam dunk for every community,” said Senator Schumer. “We’ve secured over $45 million dollars in funding to significantly cut down on the recent rash of derailments and accidents that have threatened our state’s towns and cities. CSX heard our voice and responded remarkably and I’m committed to working with them in the future to make sure these upgrades are immediately implemented.”
Following January’s CSX train derailment in Canastota, Schumer sat down last week with Michael Ward, CEO of CSX, and demanded that the rail company immediately invest in cutting-edge infrastructure technology to significantly reduce the risk of crashes and derailments. Schumer pointed to the company’s aging infrastructure as a key cause of CSX’s pattern of accidents across the state.
In a meeting with Schumer last Thursday, Ward personally committed to investing millions of dollars in New York State to upgrade the tracks and implement new safety enhancement technology. For 2008, CSX has budgeted nearly $46 million for major capital improvements throughout the state including nearly $30 million to replace old deteriorating track with brand new rail, $14.2 million to replace over 238,000 old crossties, and $1.8 million to smooth out the surfacing of the track.
An additional $2.5 million will be used to weld rail joints across the state. In addition to these capital investments, CSX has also 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 owns approximately 2,250 miles of track in New York State, including all mains, sidings, and rail yards. This comprises 7.3% of the entire CSX network, which is 30,766 miles and operates in 23 states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. Major CSX facilities in New York include rail yards in Buffalo, Selkirk and Syracuse; locomotive servicing facilities in Selkirk and Buffalo; a car repair shop in Buffalo; intermodal terminals in Buffalo and Syracuse; and various rail-to-truck facilities in Cheektowaga, Blasdell, E. Syracuse, Albany, Lackawanna, Ogdensburg and Rochester. The parent company, CSX Corporation is based in Jacksonville, Florida.
Schumer today released a report detailing how much funding each region of the state would receive.
Schumer today noted that the funding is vital to the safety of communities across the state, especially because CSX has had a checkered record when it comes to preventing derailments and accidents. Last March, CSX was involved a huge crash in Oneida, NY igniting four liquid propane tanks, forcing the shutdown of schools and roads and the evacuation of hundreds of residents in surrounding communities.
Last January, thirteen cars on a CSX train left the tracks in the village of East Rochester. No one was injured, but at least two motorists were nearly hit by falling trailers that were dislodged from their train cars. That same month, 20,000 gallons of methanol caught fire at the CSX Selkirk rail yard and in December 2006, a CSX train carrying cans of mixed vegetables derailed on an overpass in Cheektowaga, leaving one boxcar teetering on the edge of a railroad bridge and sending a second onto the road below. In 2001 a CSX train crashed in Rochester, derailing 23 cars, three of which spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Genesee River. However, this accident could have been far more tragic had the chemicals spilled in to a more crowded community area.
In response to the slew of accidents sweeping across upstate New York and other parts of the country, the FRA initiated an investigation of CSX in January 2007. The results, which were released earlier this month, revealed 3,518 safety defects, including 199 serious violations, in CSX's 23-state rail operations. Ultimately the railroad paid $350,000 in fines for federal rail safety violations stemming from the investigation. On the heels of the derailment in Canastota, these capital investments are a sign that CSX has finally made a serious commitment to long-term investments in infrastructure and technology that will strengthen its performance and safety.
In Washington, the full senate is poised to consider the Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2007, a bill of which Schumer is an original sponsor. This bill is designed to stiffen the penalties for negligent railroad companies and require the broader use of modern technology to protect the public from more fatal crossing and hazardous materials accidents. Furthermore, the legislation aims to establish new requirements for investigations, inspections and the use of new safety technology.