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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-17-004
Synopsis: On January 4, 2017, at 12:47 p.m., eastern standard time, SEPTA trolley car 9101, with 41 passengers, was traveling north on trolley route number 10 when it stopped at the southeast corner of Lancaster Avenue and 38th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to offload passengers. SEPTA trolley car 9085, with five passengers, traveling in the same direction, collided with the rear of the stopped SEPTA trolley car at an estimated speed of 11 miles per hour (mph). Emergency responders transported both operators and 46 passengers to local hospitals for nonlife-threatening injuries. Follow-up brake testing identified the failure of the emergency brake push-button electrical switch to activate the track brake. Although the trolley operator in this accident activated the track brake by using the foot pedal instead of the push-button electrical switch, the circumstances of this switch failure could contribute to accidents or incidents on other trolley or rail transit vehicles across the United States with similar emergency brake electrical switch designs.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: Utilize your authority under Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 670.25, and issue a general directive that would require all state safety oversight agencies to direct rail transit agencies to periodically test the performance of all of their rail transit vehicle braking systems to detect potential latent system failures.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Railroad
Location: Philadelphia, PA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA17FR003
Accident Reports: Railroad Safety Recommendation Report:Rail Transit Vehicle Safe BrakingRailroad Accident Brief: Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Trolley Collision
Report #: RSR-17-01
Accident Date: 1/4/2017
Issue Date: 5/11/2017
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FTA (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 10/2/2017
Response: We note that you plan to develop and issue a general directive to fulfill the intent of Safety Recommendation R-17-4, and that you will inform us once the document is placed in the Federal Register so we may review it and offer comments to ensure that it will provide the best safety benefit to rail transit agencies and state safety oversight agencies. Pending our review of the general directive and your consideration of our resulting comments and concerns, Safety Recommendation R 17-4 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FTA
Date: 8/18/2017
Response: -From Matthew J. Welbes, Executive Director: The FTA plans to develop and issue a General Directive per your recommendation, which must be published in the Federal Register for notice and comment. We will let you know when the General Directive is ready to be published in the Federal Register and look forward to your comments on the document. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this NTSB recommendation.

From: NTSB
Date: 5/11/2017
Response: On May 1, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) adopted its safety recommendation report, Rail Transit Vehicle Safe Braking, based on on-going investigation of a January 4, 2017, accident involving two Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority trolley cars in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.. Additional information about the investigation and the resulting recommendation may be found in the report, which can be accessed at our website,, under report number RSR-17/01. As a result of this investigation, we issued the following recommendation to the Federal Transit Administration.