US rail industry defends safety record amid staffing cuts

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Several major unions say the significant staff cuts railroads have made in recent years could jeopardize safety, but the major railroads say the new operating model they have adopted is simply helping them become more efficient and hasn’t made the railroads riskier. The unions say the freight railroads, which include CSX, Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern, have cut their workforces more than 22%, so now safety inspectors and maintenance technicians are hard pressed to complete their duties in the time allotted. Yet the railroads say safety has been improving overall, and regulators say the data doesn’t show a problem with the industry’s new operating model.

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