“Treat it like it’s your own backyard.” That is one of Andy Muller, Jr.’s favorite lines when he talks to the team about anything associated with railroad property. Whether it is trash thrown on the property, materials laying over the right of way, or illegal digging on the property, Andy's point is that you would not allow it on your own property, therefore it cannot be tolerated on railroad property.
Railroad property is not just fixed assets, it is also rolling stock. Therefore it is not surprising that Andy has had a long standing desire to stop graffiti from appearing on rail cars. Anyone who has been around railroads, particularly urban neighborhoods, would know that the graffiti problem has become progressively worse everywhere. In fact, it has become downright disgusting! Take a look at photographs of a mixed freight train in the 1950s and compare it to one of today’s trains, and you will see what I am talking about.
Graffiti is not an easy problem to address in an age of maximizing asset utilization and turning equipment quickly. However, the Reading and Northern has never been known to throw their hands up when faced with a challenge. Wayne Michel recently gathered together the company's managers with the goal of developing a process to eliminate graffiti on RBMN owned railcars while we keep traffic moving.
The team had many factors to consider when developing the process. Who would identify the problem? How is it reported? How and when is it fixed, and by whom? For a company with over 130 full-time employees, operating over 320 miles of track throughout nine counties, the team had many obstacles to overcome. In the end, we developed a process that designated the responsible parties for inspecting, reporting, and removing the graffiti on each type of railcar. Brian O’Neal, our VP - Transportation, was put in charge of the overall project to ensure that all parties are working together.
During the meeting we also discussed graffiti in a broader sense. We noted that some of our facilities have also been vandalized. We agreed to work to eradicate graffiti on our bridges, signal boxes, and other equipment throughout the railroad.
To us, eliminating graffiti is yet another part of making sure we are protecting the environment and the communities we serve. It may not be on the top of the list of the biggest problems we face, but graffiti eradication will make the world a little nicer to live in. If you want to help us by reporting graffiti you see along our property you can do so by contacting me, or any of our managers so we can address it.
By: Tyler Glass