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Oklahoma-based railway prohibited from operating trains due to 'imminent threat to safety'

Federal Railroad Administration

An Oklahoma-based railway is forbidden to operate any trains until it complies with federal safety standards. The Federal Railroad Administration says the company, Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad, has committed “gross negligence and willful failures” to meet basic safety and training requirements.

The company runs freight between Blackwell, Oklahoma, and Wellington, Kansas, about 35 miles away. It’s been around for almost 20 years but came under new management in October of last year.

Since then, an emergency order from the Federal Railroad Administration says the railway has operated with “complete disregard for the safety of the public.” The order prohibits the railway from operating any trains until they comply with safety requirements.

Federal regulators say the company has operated unsafe locomotives, failed to keep records of track safety inspections, and allowed unqualified people to run the trains.

The Federal Rail Administration says it discovered these problems while investigating a December train derailment. Investigators found the railway had failed to report at least two other derailments since October.

To resume operations, the railway will need to prove it’s brought employees, trains and procedures up to federal safety standards.

Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU.