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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-72-002
Details
Synopsis: AT 8:50 P.M., OCTOBER 8, 1970, PENN CENTRAL TRANSPORTATION COM FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILED NEAR SOUND VIEW, CONNECTICUT. FREIGHT CARS OBSTRUCTED TRACK IN THE PATH OF PENN CENTRAL PASSENGER TRAIN. THE PASSENGER TRAIN STRUCK THE FREIGHT CARS, PUNCTURING AN LPG TANK CAR DESIGNATED AS "EMPTY." THE DERAILED UNITS OF THE PASSENGER TRAIN PASSED THROUGH IGNITED GASES FROM THE PUNCTURED TANK CAR AND CROSSED A RAILROAD BRIDGE. TRAIN CREWMEMBERS AND PASSENGERS WERE INJURED. THE SAFETY BOARD HAS DETERMINED THAT THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF THE DERAILMENT OF THE FREIGHT TRAIN WAS THE BREAKAGE OF A TRUCK SIDE OF A CAR ON THE FREIGHT TRAIN WHICH FOLLOWED A PROGRESSIVE FATIGUE CRACK FAILURE. THE BREAKAGE OF THE TRUCK SIDE RESULTED IN DAMAGE TO A TURNOUT, WHICH CAUSED DERAILMENT OF THE FOLLOWING CARS. THE CAUSE OF THE COLLISION TO THE PASSENGER TRAIN WAS THE OBSTRUCTION OF TRACKNO. 2 BY CARS OF THE FREIGHT TRAIN. THE BOARD CONCLUDED INDUSTRY CONTROLS TO PREVENT APPLICATION OF IMPROPER CAR COMPONENTS ARE INADEQUATE, EMPTY TANK CARS MAY BE HAZARDOUS, AND SUGGESTED THAT THEINDUSTRY SHOULD INCORPORATE CRASHWORTHY CONCEPTS, IMPROVE COMMUNICATION AND EQUIPMENT DESIGN, AND CONTROLS OVER MAINTENANCE, RETIREMENT, AND TESTING OF EQUIPMENT COMPONENTS. THE BOARD REQUESTEDTHAT BRIDGE STANDARDS AND JOINT CORRIDOR USAGE BE REVIEWED.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: PROMULGATE REGULATIONS REQUIRING INTERLOCKING COUPLERS ON ALL PASSENGER-CARRYING EQUIPMENT INCLUDING THE PASSENGER LOCOMOTIVE.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed--No Longer Applicable
Mode: Railroad
Location: Sound View, CT, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79990
Accident Reports: Penn Central Transportation Co. Freight Train Derailment, Passenger Train Collision with Hazardous Material Car
Report #: RAR-72-01
Accident Date: 10/8/1970
Issue Date: 12/22/1971
Date Closed: 3/10/1981
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed--No Longer Applicable)
Keyword(s): Tank Car Loading and Unloading

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 3/10/1981
Response: The Safety Board believes that the recommendation was valid at the time of issuance, but based on the above information that all passenger cars are now equipped with interlocking couplers, except for a small number soon to be retired, Safety Recommendation R-72-2 is classified in a "Closed-No Longer Applicable" status.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/8/1980
Response: FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION LTR: THE RAILROAD LOCOMOTIVE SAFETY STANDARDS AND LOCOMOTIVE INSPECTION (49 CFR PARTS 229 AND 230) WERE PUBLISHED IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER ON MARCH 31, 1980 (45 FR 21092). A COPY WAS FORWARDED. THE REVISED RULES UPDATE, CONSOLIDATE, AND CLARIFY THE OLD RULES AND ELIMINATE CERTAIN RULES NO LONGER CONSIDERED NECESSARY FOR SAFETY. THE COUPLER REQUIREMENTS ARE COVERED IN THE RAILROAD LOCOMOTIVE SAFETY STANDARDS, SUBPART A, SECTION 229.61.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 1/11/1979
Response: The Safety Board is in accord with FRA's findings that interlocking couplers on passenger equipment are effective in preventing separations under certain conditions. Certainly train speed and weight as well as track structure integrity will affect the degree of protection afforded by the couplers. Despite the various limitations to their effectiveness, the beneficial features of interlocking coupler use have been demonstrated in many passenger train accidents. Their worth has been established in such passenger train derailments as Arlington, Virginia, on April 27, 1972; at Pulaski, Tennessee, on October 1, 1975; at Goodman, Mississippi, on June 30, 1976; and at Ralston, Nebraska, on December 13, 1976; as well as the subject accident at Sound View, Connecticut, on October 8, 1970. With the above background, the Safety Board cannot agree with FRA's response that converting older, non-equipped passenger cars and locomotives to interlocking couplers would cause unjustifiable expenditures and that regulatory action is unwarranted. Older equipment is still in use in revenue passenger service, and retrofitting this equipment interlocking couplers would certainly enhance the safety of the traveling public.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/14/1978
Response: FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION LTR: THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH CONVERTING THESE OLDER NON-EQUIPPED PASSENGER CARS AND LOCOMOTIVES TO INTERLOCKING COUPLERS WOULD BE UNJUSTIFIABLE EXPENDITURES. FRA BELIEVES REGULATORY ACTION TO REQUIRE PASSENGER CARS AND LOCOMOTIVES TO BE EQUIPPED WITH INTERLOCKING COUPLERS IS UNWARRANTED.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 1/31/1978
Response: (1) Do the test results indicate that regulations will be promulgated which require such couplers on passenger cars and locomotives?

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/5/1976
Response: FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION LTR: ANALYTICAL STUDIES ARE COMPLETED. JOINT FRA-RPI-AAR FULL SCALE TESTING TO BE COMPLETED AUGUST, 1976, WITH RESULTS TO DETERMINE WHETHER REGULATIONS WILL BE PROPOSED.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 7/22/1975
Response: 1) Does activity with Amtrak (FRA response of 8-25-72) assure that all passenger cars are equipped with interlocking couplers? 2) If not, are regulations which will require interlocking couplers contemplated?

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/10/1974
Response: FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION LTR: FRA AWARDED CONTRACT NO. PA-4069, COUPLER ANALYTICAL STUDIES AND EXPERIMENTS, ON FEBRUARY 28, 1974, COST $195,000. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS, AND AMERICAN CAR AND FOUNDRY ARE WORKING JOINTLY ON THIS STUDY. THIS CONTRACT IS SCHEDULED TO BE COMPLETED IN JUNE 1975.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 8/25/1972
Response: FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION LTR: INTERLOCKING COUPLERS ARE GENERALLY ACCEPTED AS STANDARD FOR ALL NEW ROAD-HAUL PASSENGER AND MASS TRANSIT CAR EQUIPMENT, ALTHOUGH NO REGULATION HAS BEEN DEVELOPED TO DATE REQUIRING IT. A STUDY OF WRECK DAMAGE TO ROLLING STOCK INVOLVING INTERLOCKING COUPLERS IS CURRENTLY IN PROCESS TO PROVIDE BACKUP DATA FOR POSSIBLE REGULATIONS IN THIS AREA. WE RECENTLY ENCOURAGED AMTRAK TO SPECIFY INTERLOCKING COUPLERS FOR LOCOMOTIVES USED EXCLUSIVELY IN PASSENGER SERVICE.