Safety and Security
KCS is committed to operating in a safe, secure and responsible manner for the benefit of our employees, customers and the communities we serve in the U.S. and Mexico. Toward that objective, we continuously invest in people, training, planning, technology, equipment and infrastructure to enhance the safety and security of our network and operation.
KCSR in the U.S. and KCSM in Mexico are subject to government regulations with regard to safety. These regulations direct safety practices in the placement of rail cars carrying certain commodities in the train consist, routes, inspection of equipment and track, security procedures, equipment design and construction and speed restrictions. Our safe operating practices meet or exceed what is required by these regulations.
On the KCS network, we work to ensure that rail equipment and infrastructure are operating safely and efficiently. Using advanced technology, we routinely inspect track components, bridges and equipment to proactively schedule maintenance. KCSR participates in the Asset Health Management System operated by Railinc, which analyzes data and provides insights into equipment health to help railroads, car owners, and other industry stakeholders make more informed maintenance planning and repair decisions.
We instill a culture of safety from the start, providing rigorous on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Many positions, such as locomotive engineers and conductors, have extensive requirements for certification and licensing. Certification-eligibility is based on a variety of factors, including prior safety conduct, compliance with alcohol and drug regulations, knowledge of operating rules and performance testing. We also work with employees to ensure they are provided the opportunity to be well-rested and ready for duty, which is important to employees who work flexible schedules in a 24/7 business.
KCSR and KCSM rely on advanced technologies to enhance operational safety including the following:
- Advanced Inspection Equipment — KCSR and KCSM inspect track using specialized equipment such as track geometry cars, ground-penetrating radar, and laser technology. Additionally, different types of wayside detectors are positioned along the rail network to monitor the condition of the wheels on passing trains. These specialized technologies alert railroads to potential defects and enable scheduling of maintenance in a safe, timely, and cost-effective manner.
- Positive Train Control (PTC) — Since 2008, KCSR has worked on a continuing basis to implement PTC — the largest and most complex safety system in the history of the railroad industry. Positive Train Control is required to reliably and functionally prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits and the movement of a train through a main line switch in the improper position.
- Improved Tank Cars — While KCSR and KCSM generally do not own tank cars, the rail industry for several years has been advocating for stricter tank car standards to help ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials, such as crude oil. The rail industry has advocated for standards beyond what is currently required by federal regulations.
- Asset Health Strategic Initiative (AHSI) — AHSI is a multi-year rail industry program that applies information technology processes to improve the safety and performance of freight cars and locomotives across North America. The program helps reduce mechanical service interruptions, improve the quality of railcar inspections, and increase rail yard and repair shop efficiencies by consolidating equipment information, including ownership information, repair and inspection history, company recalls and more.
- Spillx Technology – In Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, KCSM uses Spillx technology to avoid fuel leaks, drips or theft from locomotives.
From educating the public on safe behavior around railroad tracks to training emergency responders on accident response, KCSR and KCSM strive to be responsible corporate citizens in the communities we serve.
KCSR and KCSM work closely with emergency responders to ensure that communities understand how railroads operate and are prepared in the event of an accident.
- Emergency Response Training — We help provide emergency responders, railroad employees and customers with specialized training.
- Information Sharing — We provide hazmat information to local first response agencies on a need to know basis to assist with their emergency preparedness efforts. We also equip train dispatchers and crews with information about hazmat on individual trains and detailed emergency response information specific to those materials. In addition, Railinc's AskRail application provides emergency responders accurate, real-time, and immediate electronic access to hazardous materials information to safely handle emergency incidents.
- Community Response Planning — We actively participate in state emergency planning committees and state agency conferences on emergency response. We work with communities to develop and evaluate their own emergency response plans.
- Equipment Availability and Staging — We invest in equipment to train emergency response personnel and respond to accidents involving hazmat.
- Accident Response and Remediation — In an incident, we swiftly implement emergency response plans and work closely with first responders to help minimize casualties and property damage caused by the accident.
- Routing — KCSR joined the industry in cooperation with the Association of American Railroads, Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to create, implement and use a sophisticated routing tool to analyze certain hazmat routings and minimize safety and security risk when feasible.
A major concern for North America's freight railroads is pedestrian and driver behavior at rail crossings. We work with state, local and federal officials, and the public to help prevent accidents and injuries on the tracks. Recently, we joined the freight railroad industry in partnering with Operation Lifesaver to support a public education campaign — See Tracks? Think Train! — to raise awareness about risky pedestrian and driver behavior around railroad tracks. Also in cooperation with Operation Lifesaver, we partner with local law enforcement to conduct Officer on a Train events and provide Grade Crossing Collision Investigation courses for emergency responders.
From the chlorine used to purify drinking water to the crude oil that brings the U.S. closer to energy independence, America's freight railroads transport some of the most essential hazmat. According to the Association of American Railroads, 99.998 percent of all hazmat moved by rail reaches its destination without a release caused by an incident. This strong safety record is among the many reasons the federal government requires railroads to transport hazmat.
Because hazmat safety is a joint responsibility, freight railroads like KCSR and KCSM work with hazmat shippers, railroad supply companies, and the federal government to develop specialized initiatives, regulations, and standards to ensure these important goods are transported safely and securely. All told, these initiatives — coupled with the rail industry's ongoing commitment to infrastructure investment, technology innovation, rigorous employee training, self-imposed operating practices, and community safety efforts — have lowered industry hazmat accident rates by 91 percent since 1980 and by 38 percent since 2000.
The transport of hazmat is highly regulated by various government agencies. Like the rest of North America’s railroads, KCSR and KCSM continually seek ways to improve upon our strong hazmat safety record and adopt additional protocols that meet or exceed those required by the government.
Emergency responders across our network receive hazmat training from KCSR and KCSM each year to ensure that they and we are prepared in the event of an accident. This training is provided through the industry's Security and Emergency Response Training Center at the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. in Pueblo, Colo., and through various industry partnerships including the Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response Program or TRANSCAER®. KCSR and KCSM will also assist local first responders with emergency response plans for their local communities. In addition to local emergency responders, KCSR and KCSM have a comprehensive network of rail-industry-expert emergency responders positioned throughout the system, equipped, trained and ready to respond.
In the U.S., KCSR participates on the Association of American Railroad's Tank Car Committee, which is comprised of rail car owners and manufacturers, and hazmat shippers with participation from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transport Canada, and the National Transportation Safety Board. The committee works together to develop technical standards for tank cars used to move hazmat. In 2011, the Tank Car Committee implemented tank car standards that exceed those of the federal government. Railroads have proposed enhanced government design and construction regulations for crude oil and ethanol tank cars and are advocating for the swift retrofit or phase out of older tank cars carrying flammable liquids.
KCSR and KCSM dedicate substantial human and technological resources to security. Our security model enables detection and deterrence of penetration into our customers' cargo.
To ensure safe and secure shipping in the U.S., our railroad police and canine units work closely with local and state law enforcement, U.S. Customs and the Department of Homeland Security. In Mexico, we employ a multi-layered safety and security process, including an extensive network of full-time and contract agents; canine units; guard points; guards on trains in high-risk areas; patrol vehicles; and a 24/7 security desk to track data and trends and which also serves as a 24/7 communications hub.
Other security procedures in Mexico include: monitoring each KCSM train from origin to destination through multiple security filters, which allows us to keep track of cargo conditions; passing trains through a VACIS scanning system at the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo gateway and the Port of Lazaro Cardenas; sending trains arriving at Saltillo and San Luis Potosi through a high-speed digital imaging system; monitoring train cars throughout the route using the rail inspection portals; and documenting the condition of the freight and its seals upon delivery.
KCSR and KCSM are certified and validated in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT).
KCSR and KCSM also empower employees to assist with railroad security. More information on this topic is available
here for the U.S. and
here for Mexico.