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American Shipper

CSXT VOWS QUICK RESOLUTION TO TRACK ISSUES

CSXT VOWS QUICK RESOLUTION TO TRACK ISSUES

   CSX Transportation Inc. said Thursday that it would quickly and effectively fulfill the terms of the Safety Compliance Agreement signed by officials of CSXT and the Federal Railroad Administration.

   The agreement contained provisions to improve CSXT's track inspection and maintenance processes, in a collaborative effort of CSXT, the FRA and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

   A recent track audit of CSXT's 23,400-mile system by the FRA found deteriorating conditions, including on lines used by passenger trains.

   Among the defects was two areas where the rail gauge, or distance between rails, had spread enough to risk derailment of the line, which is used by Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express and CSXT's freight trains.

   Virtually all of the specific track conditions have been corrected and the remaining ones will be resolved within 30-60 days, said John W. Snow, chairman and chief executive officer of CSX Corp., parent company of CSXT.

   'Let me assure you — our track structure is safe for our people, the passengers who ride on our tracks, our customers and the communities we serve,' Snow said.

   The Safety Compliance Agreement is in effect until May 1, 2001. Snow said that he is confident that CSXT will correct track conditions and maintenance processes to convince the FRA to conclude oversight before the May date. The FRA will assess CSXT's progress in January.

   As part of the agreement, CSXT will change many of its practices, including:

   * Increase the frequency of track inspections based on projected annual million-gross-tons of rail traffic.

   * Develop new, measurable processes to ensure adequate time for track inspections and maintenance.

   * Assess — in cooperation with the BMWE and the FRA — track department manpower requirements.

   * Establish and enforce quality performance standards for track projects.

   CSXT said it has taken additional steps beyond the agreement's scope, including a two-phase “system-wide inspection blitz” that exceeds the FRA's standards; an internal audit of track inspection and maintenance practices and procedures; and increase communication among CSXT, the FRA and union leaders.

   Snow said that over the past four years, CSXT has spent $791 million on rail replacement and repair, cross ties and road bed resurfacing.

   Besides the track issues, CSXT continues to struggle with congestion problems while trying to integrate its share of the Conrail system, acquired last June.

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