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Officials tracking railroad safety concerns

WBFO News file photo

Albany is continuing to push railroads about safety, in the wake of some serious accidents around North America. 


For the last year-and-a-half, State Department of Transportation inspectors have been prowling rail lines and rail yards checking the safety of the tracks and the vehicles which ride on them. That's especially true with highly dangerous ethanol and Bakken crude oil cars. Both kinds have been involved in derailments and major explosions.

Mike Heffner is a veteran railroad worker and a DOT staff supervisor for the Inspection Group. Heffner said cars he checked a week ago were the newest around.
"In fact, that equipment was looked at in Frontier had 109 cars with the three minor defects. They were all 2014-built cars. So, they are some of the most recent built.," Heffner said.

Frontier Yard stretches along Broadway in Buffalo and Cheektowaga. In that CSX yard, Heffner checked 109 cars carrying ethanol and 24 carrying Bakken crude and found only minor problems.

Other DOT inspectors checked the CSX main line between Ripley and Dunkirk and found five non-critical defects on 58 miles of track and 11 switches.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.