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With Matt Grant, Todd Crone and Kris Hazen
Welcome to "On The Job"!

This section provides a place for employees to share on the job experiences with other employees and railfans alike. With the help of CSX engineer Todd Crone and CSX conductor Kris Hazen, Our host Matt Grant will feature stories, photos and insights to various accounts of the railroad way of life! If you work for CSX and would like to share your stories, accounts or any other relevant material, please Email us a

  "Engineer" - Story by Todd Crone

Picture in your mind if you will. A bright spring morning, any day of the work week. You are on your daily commute to work. As you come to a point where your major road crosses paths with a set of railroad tracks.

Meet Our Host - CSX carman inspector, Matt Grant

My name is Matt Grant and I am a carman with CSX in Rocky Mt., NC. Railroading is something I enjoy doing more than anything else, its way more than just a job for me, its a way of life passed down through the family. In this little corner of cyberspace I plan on sharing my experiences out in the field. I also intend to go into detail on some of the technical aspects of my job as far as the FRA and AAR are concerned. I'll also try to keep you up to date on any variations of the rules and any type of new business going on with our union. I hope this corner of the site will keep you interested. Please let me know if you have a particular interest in a certain area and I'll get into it. So know that we've met sit back and enjoy. Email Matt Grant

"On The Job Safety"


I had a good friend named Herby. Herby was a car inspector with a class 1 railroad and had been in this position for over 7 years. He really loved his job and it provided for his wife and 2 kids very well. After 7 years Herby had gotten into a comfort zone and he could almost predict when a train was going to move. This relaxed attitude allowed Herby to do his job quickly and gave him lots of free time to do more important things like shining his boots, going out for lunch, or catching a quick nap. I must hand it to Herby, if there was a short cut to be taken he knew about it. But in the long run this turned out to be his worst enemy.

One Friday morning Herby came into work after stopping off for a biscuit and some coffee like he always does. Feeling refreshed and ready for his Friday to begin he called the yardmaster and got a lineup of tracks they needed to work. One of the tracks was track # 7 with a Q405 with 18 cars to bleed and inspect. Herby jumped at the chance to work this small track and his coworkers agreed to let him. After Herby arrived at the track he decided that since it was only 18 cars and he was ready to get back and read the morning paper that he would go ahead and work the track without blue flag protection. Besides it would take him longer to lock and flag the track than it would for him to bleed and inspect 18 cars and he was dying to know who had won the Mets game the nite before. So Herby starts off down the track pulling bleed rods and wondering who had won the game. About half way down the track he spots a wheel that appears to be a high flange so he breaks out his gauge to check the wheel. He breaks the plane of the car and squats down in front of the wheel to check it, he's done this hundreds of times so who cares about the blue flag. Soon as he squats down in front of the wheel a yard crew (not seeing a blue flag or a lock) shoves a cut of cars in on track # 7 where Herby is working. It was 5 fully loaded tank cars so you can imagine the impact. Poor Herby never saw it coming. He could've easily avoided this by simply taking the time to do his job properly. Now Herby will not get to read that morning paper or find out if the Mets won or not. Herby has turned his wife into a widow and left his kids without a father. So if you choose to take shortcuts day after day sooner or later it will catch up with you. The sad part is not only will it affect you but also the people that mean the most to you.

Fortunately this little story is fiction and Herby is still railroading. But there are people out there that take these kind of chances on a daily basis, this just goes to show you that its not worth it. You should think enough of you and your family to not take these kind of chances.

Accidents just like this one occurred often back in the old days and unfortunately they still happen today. The FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) has put federal laws in place in hopes of avoiding this type of accident in the future. There are several variations to the blue flag law depending on where you are located (yard track or main line).

Since Herby was working on a yard track the following is the exact blue flag law as stated by the FRA concerning yard tracks.

RULE 218.27 - Workers on track other than main line track

When workers are on, under, or between rolling equipment on track other than main track-

(a) A blue signal must be displayed at or near each manually operated switch providing access to that track;

(b) Each manually operated switch providing access to the track on which the equipment is located must be lined against movement to that track and locked with an effective locking device; and

(c) The person in charge of the workers must have notified the operator of any remotely controlled switch that work is to be performed and have been informed by the operator that each remotely controlled switch
providing access to the track on which the equipment is located has been lined against movement to that track and locked as prescribed in rule 218.30.

(d) If rolling equipment requiring blue signal protection as provided for in this section is on a track equipped with one or more crossovers, both switches of each crossover must be lined against movement through the crossover toward that rolling equipment, and the switch of each crossover that provides access to the rolling equipment must be protected in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b),or (c) of this section.(e) If the rolling equipment to be protected includes one or more locomotives, a blue signal must be attached to the controlling locomotive at a location where it is readily visible to the engineman or operator at the controls of that locomotive.

This can be found on page 4.11 of the FRA field manual. The manual used here included all revisions through March 1, 1999.

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