Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad Company
Association of American Railroads letter dated 11/21/72 transmitted a copy of the "Summary Report to National Transportation Safety Board Covering Recommendations of General Committee Operating-Transportation Division, Association of American Railroads."
-From R.R. Manion, Vice President, Association of American Railroads: Dr. Harris and I certainly enjoyed our meeting with you, the other Members and staff of the Board on November 13, and wish to thank you for providing the opportunity for discussion.
The report of the Board covering investigation of the derailment of a TP&W freight train at Crescent City, Illinois, June 21, 1970, has been reviewed with extreme interest. Special notice was taken of the comment that the Board has not been advised of action taken by carriers to comply with recommendations of the General Committee, Operating-Transportation Division of the Association of American Railroads, proposed in response to your letter of July 7, 1970 addressed to the presidents of the AAR and most railroads.
To develop this information, questionnaires were directed to AAR member roads. Replies were received from 34 companies which operate 85 percent of the line mileage of all Class I carriers in the United States. During our meeting I touched on some of these matters, but on the following pages we have attempted to summarize the responses which we believe demonstrate the continuing, and in fact expanded, efforts of the industry to provide safe transportation of all commodities, with emphasis on those classified as hazardous materials.
As Dr. Harris has indicated his intention to provide you with a status report of the industry1s research efforts in addition to the tank car safety project, we have not in this review addressed comments to Recommendations 6 and 7 which pertain solely to research. Should you desire additional information concerning any of the subjects mentioned, we will be pleased to supply it.
1. Accelerate installation of hot box detectors on routes where there are heavy movements of flammable compressed gas and experience and studies show such devices are needed.
In operation in mid-August, 1972, on the 30 railroads which responded to this portion of our inquiry, were 1,744 hot journal detectors. This represented an increase of 280 over the number which had been installed by the same time in 1970. The major carriers, at least, have programmed additional acquisitions and we are now attempting to determine the number which they plan to install during the balance of this year as well as in 1973.
2. Expedite installation of dragging equipment detectors. During the past two years 256 detectors had been installed by 28 carriers, bringing the total to 1,757 as of mid-August, 1972. Use of wheel flange detectors is also being expanded and these roads reported 221 such devices are now in operation.
3. Increase rail inspection with flaw detection equipment. Track Safety Standards issued by the Federal Railroad Administration which became effective October 16, 1972 contain inspection requirements, including a continuous search at least once a year for internal defects in jointed or welded rails in classes 4-6 tracks, and class 3 tracks over which passenger trains operate. The equipment utilized in such inspections must be capable of detecting defects between joint bars. As such inspections are now mandatory; every railroad must institute a program for compliance. Most, however, have had such programs in effect for years, the majority exceeding the requirements of the federal regulations. Those roads have indicated their intention to continue, and even expand upon present practice, both as to the frequency of such inspections and the amount of track subject thereto.
4. Inspect axles by ultrasonic means with reflectoscope. The latest revision of the manual of standards published in 1971 includes a requirement that new axles for freight and passenger cars and locomotives must be subjected to ultrasonic inspection at the facility of the manufacturer. Some railroads also conduct ultrasonic inspections of axles in wheel shops, and the appropriate technical committee of the AAR Mechanical Division has a continuing program to collect data from these roads covering their experience. This technical committee in turn is cooperating with the equipment manufacturers in effort to develop a practical and reliable instrument which can be operated by a properly trained mechanic, and which will not require the high degree of interpretation by the operator which is essential with equipment now available.
5. Expand educational programs for railroad officers and employees in various aspects of handling flammable compressed gas under emergency conditions. Also, increase cooperative programs with local fire departments and other civic groups, to assure proper and coordinated effort during emergencies. Much has been accomplished by the carriers in expanding educational programs since the recommendation was made. Manuals have been published by many companies, with copies placed in the hands of responsible officers and employees, detailing procedures to be followed in event of emergencies involving hazardous materials. The necessity for issuance of explicit instructions on each property has been stressed, and the Bureau of Explosives is maintaining a library of material published which is available to others for reference in developing individual requirements. Substantial distribution of the Bureau of Explosives Pamphlet 7A has been made to fire and police departments by rail carriers and almost 30,000 copies of that booklet are in use. The Bureau is now in the process of consolidating the contents of several pamphlets, including 7A and others outlining recommended general practices, in a single volume, which will be of even greater utility. Other roads have elected to provide fire departments and carrier personnel with copies of the Chemical Transportation Safety Index published by the Railway Systems Management Association. All such materials have been distributed during personal visits by company officers at which times information concerning procedures is exchanged and mutual problems are discussed. These actions have unquestionably improved the relationship between the railroads 'and the protective forces. Rail carriers are also conducting seminars for the education of their personnel and members of civic organizations. Although the proper education of all concerned is a never-ending task, we do believe that the activities in the past few years have greatly enhanced the knowledge of those with the “need to know”.
8. Visual track inspection in accordance with "Recommended Minimum Track Inspection Standard and
9. Visual inspection and adjustment of all switches and frogs by competent personnel in accordance with “Recommended Minimum Track Inspection Standards” Included in the FRA Track Safety Standards which became effective October 16, 1972 are requirements for periodic visual inspections of track, with special attention to switches and track crossings. Railroads are now complying with these requirements and, in scheduling inspections, are considering the volume of traffic over segments of line in addition to authorized speeds which are the basis for FRA standards.
10. Strict enforcement of:
- inspection by trainmen of passing trains;
- walking inspection of trains by trainmen when delayed for “meets” or “passes” with critical inspection of running gear and any unusual condition on any car in the train;
- inspection of passing trains by other railroad personnel who are near the track.
The majority of companies have included requirements for the type of inspections mentioned in their operating rules, although some have elected to issue special instructions detailing the manner in which such inspections should be made. I am confident that these rules and instructions are being emphasized and are being strictly enforced.
11. Insistence on high quality inspection and maintenance of rolling equipment by qualified personnel at inspection and maintenance points. It is apparent that individual carriers are insisting upon the highest degree of care in the inspection and maintenance of all rolling equipment with special emphasis given cars used for handling hazardous commodities, dimension loads, and cars specially equipped. Increased attention is being given the training of maintenance personnel, the development of procedures and instructions for compliance with rigid inspection and maintenance standards which are issued and the demand for constant vigilance on the part of officers and supervisors responsible for insuring compliance with such standards.
12. Greater participation in the AAR Early Warning System. The Early Warning System was formalized in 1970 since which time the industry has been alerted to 27 defects considered serious. Of these\ defects, five involved truck bolsters, five trailers and/ or containers, four related to wheels, three to roller bearings, two to coupler and draft gear arrangements, and one each to truck-side frames, body center plates, car doors, car floors, air brakes, bell cranks, tank car tanks, and safety appliances.
The industry response to the formalized Early Warning System has been extremely enthusiastic. Inspection forces have been alerted and, where warranted, action taken to remove the defective cars from service, replacing or modifying the component involved. Excellent cooperation has been received from the railroad car builders and railroad supply industry. Where modifications have been required, they were promptly developed and distributed improved inspection and maintenance practices were promptly placed into effect and quality control practices augmented to prevent a recurrence.
Ten of the early warning items resulted in removal from service of the components, nine involved modification of the con1ponents, six led to requirement for improved inspection and maintenance procedures, and one will result in a new specification currently under development.
13. Improve train handling by additional education of employees in the dynamics of train operation, and implement research findings as rapidly as they are developed. The AAR, in cooperation with a number of individual rail carriers, the Railway Progress Institute, and the Federal Railroad Administration, has embarked upon a comprehensive research program on track/train dynamics. This program as designed will greatly enhance the knowledge of this involved subject and will undoubtedly result in changes in operating practices. Details concerning the program will be provided by Dr. Harris, but pending results of the research activity carriers are rapidly expanding their efforts to educate and train employees in proper methods of train handling. The use of locomotive simulators has produced extremely satisfactory results. Instruction cars equipped with control consoles and other audiovisual aids have been produced by several companies. Manuals have been prepared and are constantly reviewed and updated as the state of the art advances. Supervisors are closely monitoring the performance of enginemen, to insure that each is thoroughly familiar with the handling techniques which provide the highest degree of safety and efficiency.