In leaked audio heard by the Guardian, a manager for one of the US’s largest rail companies can be heard explaining to a former carman that they should stop tagging railcars for broken bearings. The manager says doing so delays other cargo.
The disclosure comes as federal agencies investigate the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. A wheel-bearing failure was cited as the cause of the crash in a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
In late 2016, Stephanie Griffin, a former Union Pacific carman, went to her manager with concerns that she was getting pushback for tagging – or reporting for repair – railcars. Her manager told her it was OK to skip inspections.
Griffin asked if the manager could put that in writing. “That’s weird,” said the manager. “We have 56 other people who are not bad-ordering stuff out there. You’re definitely not going to get in trouble for it.”
Griffin said: “He refused to bad-order [mark for repair] cars for bad wheel bearings. My boss took issue with it because it increased our dwell time. When that happened, corporate offices would start berating management to release the cars.”
Dwell time refers to the time a train spends at a scheduled stop without moving. “It’s very obvious that management is not concerned with public safety, and only concerned with making their numbers look good,” Griffin said.
Griffin also claimed she and other workers did not receive any formal training to inspect and repair railcars, and were left to learn from an older worker and figure the rest out from American Association of Railroads and Federal Railroad Administration handbooks. Griffin suggested all major railroad carriers operate similarly.
As part of her job at the railyard, Griffin wasRead more on theguardian.com