South Carolina has about 2,600 miles of railroad tracks, and two state inspectors from the Office of Regulatory Staff enforce federal rules and regulations
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina has about 2,600 miles of railroad tracks, and two state inspectors from the Office of Regulatory Staff enforce federal rules and regulations of those rails.
The inspectors oversee different aspects. First, the track inspector checks equipment, such as the condition of the rails. There’s also an operating practices inspector, who looks at the human side of railroad operations, such as the enforcement of proper radio communications and making sure the crew has the appropriate number of breaks.
While there are some efforts by lawmakers in other states to pass stronger rail safety legislation in the wake of February’s East Palestine, Ohio train derailment, South Carolina’s Office of Regulatory Staff said they’re not aware of any efforts in the legislature.
Chief of Broadband, Communications, and Safety Tom Allen said his office enforces all federal regulations.
Anecdotally, officials said there’s been fewer injuries and deaths of employees on the rail lines in the last 10 years. But, what concerns them the most is the slight uptick in deaths and injuries from people who should not be on the rails in the first place. Most commonly, those people are trespassing on railroads. Locomotive-vehicle collisions at a public crossing are also a concern.
Preliminary data from the Office of Regulatory Staff shows those two events caused, on average, one person in South Carolina to die every two weeks since this year began.
“Those trains -- they’re big, they’re large, they’re heavy,” Allen said. “No one should ever be on railroad property without permission.
According to South Carolina’s rail safety nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, the ratio of a train to a car is the same as a car to a soda can. It’s easy to imagine what happens when a soda can is crushed by a car.
The message from officials when you’re driving over a railroad crossing: obey the signals, and double-check that the tracks are clear.
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