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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-02-014
Synopsis: This recommendation addresses track conditions on the Union Pacific Railroad's (UP's) Beaumont Subdivision and the effectiveness of the UP's track inspection activities, including management oversight. The recommendation is derived from the Safety Board's investigation of the May 27, 2000, derailment of UP train QFPLI-26 at Eunice, Louisiana, and is consistent with the evidence we found and the analysis we performed. As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board has issued three safety recommendations, one of which is addressed to the UP. Information supporting this recommendation is discussed below. The Safety Board would appreciate a response from you within 90 days addressing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement our recommendation.
Recommendation: The NTSB recommends that the Union Pacific Railroad: Change your track inspection programs to ensure that managers are making use of all available information about track conditions, including railroad and Federal Railroad Administration track inspection reports, to identify trends or problem areas and to monitor the effectiveness of daily track inspections.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Eunice, LA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA00MR005
Accident Reports: Derailment of Union Pacific Railroad Train QFPLI-26
Report #: RAR-02-03
Accident Date: 5/27/2000
Issue Date: 4/16/2002
Date Closed: 8/9/2002
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Union Pacific (Closed - Acceptable Action)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Union Pacific
Date: 8/9/2002
Response: The Safety Board appreciates the detailed information provided in Mr. Duffy's letter outlining the UP's initiatives to evaluate and improve track inspections conducted across its system. We note that immediately following the accident in Eunice, Louisiana, the UP met with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to develop an action plan to address the issue of track inspections. That action plan resulted in the newly developed engineering track maintenance field manual, extensive training for UP track personnel in the identification and remediation of track defects, and a track inspector review and evaluation program. The Board also notes that the UP has developed and implemented an electronic track inspection reporting system, which the UP believes will help its managers to compare defects identified by UP inspectors to those defects identified by FRA and state inspections. Finally, Mr. Duffy indicates that most recently, the UP established a permanent team of experienced field managers to lead its quality assurance efforts for track inspections. The Safety Board commends the UP for its comprehensive approach to improve track inspections systemwide. The initiatives outlined should help managers make better use of all available information regarding track conditions. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation R-02-14 is classified "Closed--Acceptable Action."

From: Union Pacific
Date: 5/28/2002
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 06/13/2002 12:51:49 PM MC# 2020589 Union Pacific has implemented measures that address your specific recommendation as outlined below. UP/FRA Track Inspection Action Plan In June, 2000, UP met with FRA to evaluate and improve track inspections being conducted across our system. Out of those discussions, UP and FRA jointly developed an action plan to address this issue. In accordance with this action plan, UP has: Revised the track inspection requirements outlined in UP's Chief Engineers Instruction Bulletins. Those inspection instructions have been issued in our newly developed Engineering Track Maintenance Field Manual. In addition, we have communicated these instructions to all personnel involved in the track inspection process (including Train Dispatchers and Superintendents), and reiterated their responsibility in assuring quality track inspections are conducted systemwide. Trained UP Track Inspectors, Managers Track Maintenance and Directors Track Maintenance in UP's Track Inspection Training Program This 4&y training session consists of extensive training in the identification and remediation of track defects, including a field training module. We also established a requirement to train new Track Inspectors in our formal training program within 30 days of being assigned the position. Developed and implemented a Track Inspector Review and Evaluation Program. This program requires each Manager Track Maintenance to ride with each track inspector at least once per month to review past inspection reports and to evaluate the inspector's performance in identifying, protecting and documenting all defects. Electronic Track Inspection Reporting System Union Pacific has developed and implemented an electronic track inspection reporting system that replaces the paper reporting required of our track inspectors. This computerized reporting system promotes comprehensive analysis of inspections and defects by both field and staff management. It improves our ability to see any gaps in inspection frequencies, better identifies systemic track defects and helps ensure that proper remedial actions are taken. Managers are also better able to compare defects identified by UP inspectors to those defects identified by FRA/State inspectors. This system interfaces with our Track and Defect Reporting System that contains information on rail detector testing, geometry car testing, joint testing and joint inventory, service-failed rails and other maintenance history. Track Inspection Quality Assurance Program Within the last few weeks, Engineering established a permanent team of experienced field managers to lead our quality assurance efforts for track inspections. This team will work with our Managers Track Maintenance to ensure that: All track inspectors are properly trained. All inspections are being performed at the proper frequency. Proper remedial actions are taken to protect train operations over defects. Defect reporting is properly documented through our electronic track inspection reporting system. In order to ensure that we are getting the highest quality track inspections possible, these Managers Special Projects will perform track inspector evaluations and give feedback to both the inspectors and Managers Track Maintenance of their findings. These managers are aligned with the FRA Regions and will work directly with FRA personnel on any inspection issues that arise. They will also use the information provided by a variety of sources (UP inspection reports, FRA inspection reports, geometry car testing, etc.) to identify opportunities to improve our inspection, maintenance and capital program planning processes. These initiatives will produce high quality track inspections that, in turn, will reduce the number of track-caused derailments and, hopefully, fulfill the requirements contained in Recommendation R-02-14.