The National Association of Railroad Passengers 2012 Dr. Gary Burch Memorial Safety Award was presented by the Burch family to three Amtrak employees for their groundbreaking work on the monitoring of track conditions, reducing the risk of accidents and derailments. The award, which honors individuals who have significantly enhanced rail passenger safety, is sponsored by the family of Dr. Burch, who died in a 1991 passenger train derailment in South Carolina.
The three members of Amtrak’s engineering department, Michael Trosino, senior director, clearances, inspections and tests, Steven Chrismer, principal engineer track geometry and Marty Perkins, Sr., rail engineer stress management in the engineering department, developed a method of measuring rail temperature to determine when heat slow orders are needed. This has proved more precise than the ambient air temperature that most railroads use.
“Messrs. Trosino, Chrismer and Perkins have demonstrated an extraordinary level of safety commitment to railroad passengers on the NEC and Michigan by implementing this rail temperature monitoring program to reduce the potential for catastrophic risk of track buckles that could result in a serious accident or derailment,” said Amtrak President & CEO Joseph Boardman.
The Burch family established the $1,000 award in 1994 and has sponsored it ever since.
NARP also presented professor Christopher Barkan with the association’s Academic Award, for a career dedicated to promoting the understanding of railroad engineering and advancing rail technology.
Dr. Barkan is the director of the Railroad Engineering Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; under his leadership, the school has expanded the rail curriculum from one course to six, making it the largest of any North American university. In 2010, Barkan and his colleagues added a course on high-speed rail engineering, a significant step in the development of an American high-speed rail industry.
“Dr. Barkan has created something special in Urbana-Champaign and you can see that in the high level of demand for the program’s graduates,” said NARP President Ross Capon. “The Railroad Engineering Program is the nation’s premier incubator for the next generation of men and women who will keep America’s rail network strong.”
NARP established its Academic Award in 2011, to recognize university and college professors who have excelled in developing and promoting knowledge of passenger train transportation in the United States and Canada. This is the second time this award has been presented.