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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-75-006
Details
Synopsis: ON JANUARY 2, 1975, PENN CENTRAL COMMUTER TRAIN 528 COLLIDED W PENN CENTRAL COMMUTER TRAIN 526 ON THE HARLEM LINE NEAR BOTANICAL GARDEN STATION IN NEW YORK CITY. THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD'S CONTINUING INVESTIGATION HAS REVEALED SEVERAL SAFETY PROBLEMS WHICH THE SAFETY BOARD BELIEVES WARRANT PROMPT CORRECTIVE ACTION.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: EQUIP ALL RAIL LINES WITH A SYSTEM THAT WILL CONTROL THE SPEED OF THE TRAIN IN COMPLIANCE WITH SIGNALS WHEN AN ENGINEER FAILS TO DO SO.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: New York, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 80013
Accident Reports: Collision of Two Penn Central Commuter Trains at Botanical Garden Station
Report #: RAR-75-08
Accident Date: 1/2/1975
Issue Date: 3/5/1975
Date Closed: 11/28/1986
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Metro North Railroad (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s): Positive Train Control, Transit

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Metro North Railroad
Date: 10/28/1986
Response: The Safety Board appreciates Metro-North's further consideration of the Board's recommendation, and we note your rationale for not installing a cab signal and automatic train control system on the Danbury and Waterbury branches and the segment of the Harlem Line between Brewster North and Dover Plains, including the relatively light schedules of passenger movements on these line segments. In view of Metro-North's position, the Safety Board has considered the selective installation of a cab signal and automatic train control system on those segments of the lines more heavily used as an acceptable alternative to the full intent of the recommendation. Consequently, Safety Recommendation R-75-6 has been placed in a "Closed-Acceptable Alternate Action" status.

From: Metro North Railroad
To: NTSB
Date: 8/29/1986
Response: THE BOARD EXPRESSED CONCERN WITH METRO-NORTH'S STATEMENT THAT THE WATERBURY AND DANBURY BRANCHES IN THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT AND NORTHERLY MOST PORTION OF THE HARLEM LINE BETWEEN BREWSTER NORTH AND DOVER PLAINS WILL REMAIN NON SIGNALLED. REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE ACCIDENT HISTORY IN THIS AREA. I WISH TO POINT OUT, HOWEVER, THAT THE ACCI DENTS WHICH LED TO THE INITIAL NTSB SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS OCCURRED ON LINES THAT WERE GOVERNED BY A WAYSIDE AUTOMATIC BLOCK SIGNAL SYSTEM. IN METRO-NORTH'S JUDGMENT, THE MANUAL BLOCK SIGNAL RULES WHICH ARE IN EFFECT ON THESE THREE SEG MENTS OF LIGHTLY USED RAIL LINES OFFER TOTAL SAFETY FOR THE LIMITED OPERATION THAT EXISTS ON THESE LINES. SERVICE ON ALL THREE SEGMENTS IS PROVIDED BY SINGLE UNIT SELF PROPELLED RAIL DIESEL CARS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF TWO LOCOMOTIVE HAULED COACH TRAINS WHICH OPERATE THROUGH TO NEW YORK DURING THE MORNING AND EVENING PEAK PERIODS. FREIGHT TRAFFIC ON THESE LINES IS OPERATED TWO OR THREE TIMES PER WEEK AT THE MOST, AND ONLY AT NIGHT WHEN THERE ARE NO PASSENGER TRAINS OPERA TING. ON THE LINE SEGMET BETWEEN BREWSTER NORTH AND DOVER PLAINS ON THE HARLEM LINE, THERE ARE ONLY 16 SCHEDULED PAS SENGER TRAIN MOVEMENTS PER DAY, WITH NO SCHEDULED MEETS. ON THE DANBURY BRANCH, THERE ARE 16 SCHEDULED PASSENGER TRAIN MOVEMENTS PER DAY, INCLUDING THE TWO DIESEL HAULED COACH TRAINS OPERATING BETWEEN DANBURY AND NEW YORK DURING PEAK HOURS. THERE IS ONE SCHEDULED PASSENGER MEET ON THE DANBURY BRANCH. THE CAPITAL COSTS REQUIRED TO INSTALL A SIGNAL SYSTEM WHICH INCLUDES CAN SIGNALS AND ON-BOARD AUTOMATIC TRAIN CONTROL FEATURES ON THESE LINES WOULD BE PROHIBITIVE. THESE SINGLE TRACK BRANCH LINES ARE TOO LIGHTLY USED TO BE CONSIDERED FOR SUCH A MAJOR CAPITAL INVESTMENT AT THIS TIME. GIVEN THE LONG ACCIDENT-FREE HISTORY OF THE OPERATION ON THESE LIGHT DENSITY LINES UNDER EXISTING MANUAL BLOCK SIGNAL RULES, METRO-NORTH WOULD ENCOURAGE THE NTSB TO REMOVE R-75-6 FROM ITS CURRENT OPEN--ACCEPTABLE ACTION STATUS TO CLOSED.

From: NTSB
To: Metro North Railroad
Date: 8/4/1986
Response: The Safety Board notes that a cab signal and automatic train control system is now in service on the entire New Haven Line and has been in service on a portion of the Hudson Line since late 1982. The Board notes further the schedule for installing this system on other portions of the Harlem and Hudson Lines. The Board is concerned, however, with Metro-North's statement that the Danbury and Waterbury branches and a portion of the Harlem Line will remain non-signaled. In view of the accident history in this area, particularly the Darien, Connecticut, accident on August 20, 1969, and the New Canaan, Connecticut accident on July 13, 1976, the Board encourages Metro-North to install this system on all lines. Pending a further response to the Board's concern, Safety Recommendation R-75-6 will remain in an "Open-Acceptable Action" status.

From: Metro North Railroad
To: NTSB
Date: 6/4/1986
Response: METRO-NORTH COMMUTER RAILROAD LTR: A CAB SIGNAL AND AUTO MATIC TRAIN CONTROL SYSTEM IS NOW IN SERVICE OVER THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE NEW HAVEN LINE BETWEEN WOODLAWN AND NEW HAVEN. THIS SYSTEM WAS INSTALLED AND PLACED INTO SERVICE BEGINNING IN LATE 1984 AND BECAME FULLY OPERATIONAL DURING LATE 1985. IN ADDITION, SUCH A SIGNAL AND TRAIN CONTROL SYSTEM HAS BEEN IN SERVICE ON THE HUDSON LINE BETWEEN CROTON HARMON AND POUGHKEEPSIE SINCE LATE 1982. OUR PRESENT FUNDED SIGNAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM FOR THE HARLEM AND HUDSON LINES IS ON GOING AND SUCH A SYSTEM SHOULD BE IN FULL SERVICE BETWEEN MELROSE AND BREWSTER NORTH BY SPRING OF 1987; BETWEEN CROTON HARMON AND MOTT HAVEN JUNCTION BY 1989; AND BETWEEN MOTT HAVEN JUNCTION AND GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL BY 1991. AT THAT TIME THE ONLY RAIL LINES ON METRO-NORTH THAT WILL REMAIN NON-SIGNALED WILL BE THE DANBURY AND WATERBURY BRANCHES AND THE HARLEM LINE BETWEEN CP DYKE AND DOVER PLAINS.

From: Metro North Railroad
To: NTSB
Date: 5/13/1986
Response: MTA'S RESPONSE OF APRIL 10, 1975 (ATTACHED) NTSB'S FOLLOWUP LETTER OF NOVEMBER 9, 1977 (ATTACHED)

From: NTSB
To: Metro North Railroad
Date: 11/9/1977
Response: The cab signal - automatic speed control system is held in high regard by the Safety Board, and this plan is an acceptable response to our Safety Recommendations R-75-6 and 7 (Botanical Gardens accident, January 2, 1975). The Safety Board would appreciate further information on the status of the system and advice as to when the system will become operational.

From: NTSB
To: Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit
Date: 5/13/1986
Response: On April 10, 1975, the MTA informed the Safety Board of its plan for the installation of a cab signal - automatic speed control system on the Harlem and Hudson Lines and indicated at that time that funding assistance was being sought from both the New York State Legislature and the New York State Department of Transportation. The Board noted this intent to implement Safety Recommendation R-75-6 in its letter of November 9, 1977, and requested to be advised as to when the system would become operational. The MTA never responded to the Board's November 9, 1977 letter. Through staff contact with Metro-North, however, the Board has been informed that a cab signal - automatic speed control system is currently being installed on the Harlem and Hudson Lines and that installation of this system is to be completed in the near future. The Safety Board would appreciate being informed of the projected completion date for this system. Pending receipt of this information from Metro-North, Safety Recommendation R-75-6 will be held in an "Open-Acceptable Action" status. For the record, the Safety Board has placed Safety Recommendation R-75-7 in an "Closed-No Longer Applicable" status since the circumstances have obviously changed from the date the recommendation was issued.

From: NTSB
To: Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit
Date: 11/9/1977
Response: The cab signal - automatic speed control system is held in high regard by the Safety Board, and this plan is an acceptable response to our Safety Recommendations R-75-6 and 7 (Botanical Gardens accident, January 2, 1975). The Safety Board would appreciate further information on the status of the system and advice as to when the system will become operational.

From: Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit
To: NTSB
Date: 3/13/1975
Response: MTA LTR: MTA IS SEEKING FUNDS TO INSTALL A CAB CONTROL SPEED SYSTEM. 4/10/75 - MTA LTR: DETAILED ENGENEERING FOR THIS SYSTEM IS UNDERWAY AND MTA IS ACTIVELY SEEKING APPROVAL BY THE NY STATE LEGISLATURE AND NY STATE DOT TO FUND THIS PROJECT. 12/13/77 - MTA LTR: MTA HAS RECEIVED $7,300,000 FROM UMTA AND NY D.O.T. THESE FUNDS WILL PERMIT THE INSTALLATION OF CAB SIGNALLING-AUTOMATIC SPEED CONTROL FROM "ROSE" INTERLOCKING TO MOUNT VERNON WEST ON THE HARLEM DIVISION. CONSTRUCTION SHOULD START IN SPRING 1978 AND BE COMPLETED BY DECEMBER 1979. IF FUNDS BECOME AVAILABLE ON A CONTINUING BASIS, THE PROGRAM SHOULD BE TOTALLY OPERATIONAL BY 1983.