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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-18-025
Details
Synopsis: On March 7, 2017, a 2016 Van Hool motorcoach, operated by ECHO Transportation and occupied by a driver and 49 passengers, was traveling northbound on Main Street in Biloxi, Mississippi. The motorcoach stopped in advance of a highway–railroad grade crossing on Main Street that had a high vertical profile. The crossing warning system was not in active mode when the motorcoach approached, stopped, and then moved onto the railroad tracks. As the driver attempted to drive over the crossing, the frame of the motorcoach came into contact with the pavement, and the vehicle became stuck on the crossing. An eastbound freight train operated by CSX Transportation was approaching the crossing. The grade crossing warning system activated when the train was about 29 seconds away. As soon as he became aware of the approaching train, the motorcoach driver opened the vehicle’s loading door and told the passengers to evacuate. The train engineer put the train into emergency about 502 feet west of the crossing. About 14 seconds later, the train struck the left side of the motorcoach, pushing it 259 feet down the tracks before coming to a stop, with the motorcoach still in contact with the lead locomotive. Four motorcoach passengers died, the driver and 37 passengers sustained injuries, and 8 passengers were uninjured. The investigation focused on the safety issues of high-profile grade crossings and emergency egress and extrication. As a result of this investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) makes new safety recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Mississippi Department of Transportation, City of Biloxi, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, Association of American Railroads, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, and Class I railroads. The NTSB reiterates and reclassifies one recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: With assistance from the Federal Railroad Administration, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, develop specific criteria to establish when an existing grade crossing should be reconstructed, closed, or otherwise have the risk posed by its unsafe vertical profile comprehensively mitigated. Incorporate the guidance into your Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Biloxi, MS, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY17MH010
Accident Reports: Preliminary Report: Highway HWY17MH010​Collision Between Freight Train and Charter Motorcoach at High-Profile Highway–Railroad Grade Crossing Biloxi, Mississippi March 7, 2017
Report #: HAR-18-01
Accident Date: 3/7/2017
Issue Date: 8/28/2018
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 4/25/2019
Response: We are pleased to note that you plan to work with the FRA and industry subject matter experts as appropriate to identify and address risk mitigation at vertical-profile grade crossings. These actions show positive movement toward addressing the intent of this recommendation; accordingly, pending publication of the recommended criteria in the Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook, Safety Recommendation H-18-25 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/8/2019
Response: -From Brandye L. Hendrickson, Deputy Administrator: The FHW A will work with the Federal Railroad Administration and other subject matter experts from the industry to identify the most appropriate approach to address the risks associated with vertical profile grade crossing conditions. The anticipated date for completion is April 2020.

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 8/28/2018
Response: On August 7, 2018, the NTSB adopted its report Collision Between Freight Train and Charter Motorcoach at High-Profile Highway–Railroad Grade Crossing, Biloxi, Mississippi, March 7, 2017, NTSB/HAR 18/01. The details of the investigation and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at www.ntsb.gov. Among the safety recommendations are three new recommendations issued to the Federal Highway Administration, which can be found on page 51 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response to correspondence@ntsb.gov. If it exceeds 10 megabytes, including attachments, please e-mail us at the same address for instructions. Please do not submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the same response.