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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-70-020
Details
Synopsis: ABOUT 8:20 P.M. ON AUGUST 20, 1969, PENN CENTRAL COMMUTER TRAIN-48 AND N-49 COLLIDED HEAD-ON JUST NORTH OF THE HOYT STREET CROSSING ON THE NEW CANAAN BRANCH NEAR DARIEN, CONNECTICUT. TRAIN N-48, GOING FROM STAMFORD TO NEW CANAAN, HAD A THREE-MAN CREW AND ABOUT 60 TO 80 PASSENGERS. THE FIRST CAR IN TRAIN N-48 HAD BEEN CLOSED TO REVENUE PASSENGERS BEFORE IT LEFT STAMFORD. TRAIN N-49, A DEADHEAD EQUIPMENT TRAIN FROM NEW CANAAN TO STAMFORD, HAD A THREE-MAN CREW AND WAS CARRYING A CAR INSPECTOR AND AN ELECTRICIAN WHO HAD PERFORMED SERVICE AT NEW CANAAN AND WERE RETURNING TO STAMFORD, STILL ON DUTY. A PASSENGER, WHO WAS RIDING WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION IN THE HEAD CAR OF N-48, AND THE ENGINEER WERE KILLED.THE CONDUCTOR, FLAGMAN, AND ABOUT 40 PASSENGERS WERE INJURED. THE CONDUCTOR AND FLAGMAN ON TRAIN N-49 WERE KILLED AND THE ENGINEER WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED. THE HEAD CARS OF BOTH TRAINS WERE ALMOST COMPLETELY DESTROYED; OTHER CARS WERE LESS SEVERLY DAMAGED.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: IF IT RECEIVES ADDITIONAL STATUTORY AUTHORITY UNDER LEGISLATION NOW IN PROGRESS, STUDY THE FEASIBILITY OF REQUIRING A FORM OF AUTOMATIC TRAIN CONTROL AT POINTS WHERE PASSENGER TRAINS ARE REQUIRED TO MEET OTHER TRAINS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Darien, CT, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 80011
Accident Reports: Penn Central Company, Collision of Trains N-48 and N-49
Report #: RAR-70-03
Accident Date: 8/20/1969
Issue Date: 10/23/1970
Date Closed: 11/17/1975
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Positive Train Control

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 10/24/2011
Response: Notation 8351: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), "Positive Train Control Systems," that was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2011. The NPRM proposes amendments to FRA regulations implementing a provision of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that mandates that certain passenger and freight railroads implement positive train control (PTC) systems by December 31, 2015. Consistent with statute, the final rule became effective March 16, 2010, and established new regulations requiring each Class I railroad over which (1) poisonous-by-inhalation (PIH) or toxic-by-inhalation (TIH) hazardous materials are transported and (2) regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation travels to implement a PTC system by December 31, 2015. The FRA is seeking further comments on its proposal to amend the regulations by eliminating two qualifying tests-the alternate route analysis and the residual risk analysis-that are required to avoid PTC system implementation on track segments that do not transport PIH and TIH hazardous materials traffic and are not used for intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation as of December 31, 2015. The NTSB has continued to follow the recent litigation between the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the FRA regarding PTC implementation. The NTSB also is aware of Executive Order 13563, issued on January 18, 2011, which requires federal agencies to review significant regulations to determine if they are outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome. Further, Vice Chairman Hart testified before the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, to affirm our strong support of the significant safety benefits that can be accomplished with implementation of PTC systems on our nation's railroads. The NTSB offers the following comments on this section of the NPRM: Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 236.1005, "Requirements for Positive Train Control Systems" When the final rule addressing PTC implementation was issued in 2010, the FRA requested additional comments on specific issues. In our previously submitted comments, the NTSB acknowledged the fact that traffic patterns will likely change to some degree before December 31, 2015. These changes in traffic patterns will necessitate appropriately justified adjustments to the track segments on which PTC must be installed. The NTSB believes that the final rule as written provides enough flexibility to railroads, either at the time of initial filing of their PTC Implementation Plans (which has already passed) or through a request for amendment, to subsequently address changes in traffic patterns. In addition to requiring PTC system implementation on railroad lines over which (1) PIH or TIH hazardous materials are transported and (2) regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation travels, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 also requires PTC systems to be implemented on other tracks as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may prescribe by regulation or order. The NTSB believes the track segments that will be selected for PTC implementation will be reviewed and considered by the FRA in accordance with its discretionary authority. But the NTSB is concerned that by eliminating the requirements for an alternate route analysis and a residual risk analysis as currently required by the final rule in order for railroads to avoid PTC system implementation, the FRA's ability to identify other high-risk corridors will be hampered. The NTSB strongly encourages the FRA to maintain the railroads' current PTC Implementation Plans so that the traveling public, railroad employees, and communities near rail lines receive the maximum safety benefits. The NTSB will continue to monitor and offer safety recommendations as a result of its accident investigations to improve the effectiveness of PTC standards. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this NPRM. Should you require any additional information or clarification, please contact us.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 2/27/1998
Response: Notation 6976: The National Transportation Safety Board is pleased to respond to the Proposed Order of Particular Applicability, "Automatic Train Control and Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES); Northeast Corridor Railroads (NEC)," published in the Federal Register on November 20, 1997. Positive Train Separation (PTS) is on the Safety Board's "Most Wanted" list. Since 1969, the Safety Board has urged the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to address a form of automatic train control including PTS. In 1970 the Safety Board recommended that the FRA, if it receives additional statutory authority under legislation now in progress, study the feasibility of requiring a form of automatic train control at points where passenger trains are required to meet other trains (R-70-020). In the Safety Board's continuing efforts to address the needs of PTS, the Board has issued safety recommendations and offered comments as a result of its accident investigations to reflect changes necessary to improve the effectiveness of PTS. The Safety Board has reviewed the Proposed Order of Particular Applicability and offers the following comments that address specific items in the proposed order. Implementation Section The Safety Board is concerned that sections of the proposed order of particular applicability do not comprehensively address areas critical to ensure a collision avoidance system. In the proposed regulations, Amtrak is proposing to install #26.5 (60 mph) turnouts in limited locations, on the NEC, where there is insufficient space to install #32.7 (80 mph) turnouts. Amtrak is also proposing an interim procedure using transponders to allow 9-aspect system and 4-aspect system users to operate over these 60-mph turnouts. The interim procedure proposes that the cab signal/ATC system code at 120 pulses per minute be employed at both carrier frequencies (100 Hz and 250 Hz). Conventional equipment in use on the NEC today will decode only the 100 Hz portion of the signal and will receive a 45-mph speed indication to operate through the diverging route. New equipment operated on the NEC will decode both (100 Hz and the 250 Hz) portions of the signal and will receive an 80 mph speed indication. ACSES transponders located approaching the turnout and at the turnout would enforce a 60- mph civil speed restriction for diverging moves through the interlocking where the #26.5 turnout is located. This interim procedure would be used until all vehicles operating in the area are equipped to decode the new (100 Hz) 270 code rate that indicates a 60 mph diverging speed indication. Amtrak is also proposing to allow the on-board ACSES to be cut out whenever the ACSES fails en route, thus allowing a train to proceed. The train will then operate at conventional train speeds. Trains operating at conventional train speeds will not exceed 125 mph between Washington, D.C., and New York, NY (South End) or 110 mph between New Haven, CT, and Boston, MA (North End). A train operating with the on-board ACSES system cut out would still receive the 80-mph speed indication when approaching a #26.5 (60 mph) turnout on a diverging move. However, the 60-mph ACSES civil speed restriction would not be enforced. A site specific instruction and a reflectorized sign on the distant signal prior to the location are the only notification an engineer will receive for the turnout speed. The Safety Board believes that by providing an engineer with a higher speed indication than permissible through a turnout without any method in place to enforce the maximum allowable speed could potentially defeat the ACSES concept intended to be implemented by the FRA. Performance Standards Section Paragraph 9(c) The FRA delineated requirements applicable to on-board event recorders in addition to the required functions of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 229.5 (g). The Safety Board supports the FRA mandating that on-board event recorders record the time at which each transponder is encountered, the information associated with that transponder, and each use of the positive stop override. The Safety Board believes that making this data available will enhance railroad safety and aid in accident analysis. Paragraph 10(b) As a result of the Safety Board's investigation of the Silver Spring, Maryland, accident,1 the Safety Board issued the following recommendation to the FRA: R-97-013 Require the implementation of Positive Train Separation Control Systems for all trains where commuter and intercity passenger railroads operate. The proposed rules have a provision whereby other users of Amtrak's South End high-speed tracks, between Washington, DC and New York City, New York, would not be required to be equipped with the ACSES technology. The Safety Board urges the FRA to implement recommendation R-97-013 through the rulemaking process. The Safety Board also recognizes that an interim period is required to allow all railroads to equip their locomotives, but emphasizes that a fixed time period from the introduction of these regulations should be introduced for all railroads to come into compliance. The Safety Board appreciates the opportunity to present its views on the proposed rulemaking.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/18/1970
Response: OCTOBER 26, 1972 FRA ADMINISTRATOR UPDATED RESPONSE TO THIS RECOMMENDATION IN COMMENTS ON NTSB-RSS-72-1 SPECIAL STUDY REPORT COVERING TRAIN ACCIDENTS ATTRIBUTED TO THE "NEGLIGENCE OF EMPLOYEES." FRA COMMENTS AS FOLLOWS: A RESEARCH PROGRAM WAS UNDERTAKEN AND WAS CONDUCTED BY THE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM CENTER. THE RESULTS INDICATE THAT THE BEST SYSTEM WOULD APPEAR TO BE A HYBRID, COMPOSED OF BOTH PRESENT AND PROPOSED LEVELS OF MECHANICAL CONTROL. HOWEVER, BECAUSE OF ITS COSTS AND NECESSARY EXTENSIVE INSTALLATION IT DOES NOT APPEAR POSSIBLE AT THIS TIME.