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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-75-013
Details
Synopsis: ON MAY 8, 1974, PENN CENTRAL FREIGHT TRAIN OV-8 COLLIDED WITH COUNTERWEIGHT OF A LIFT-SPAN DRAWBRIDGE ON THE CUYAHOGA RIVER AT CLEVELAND, OHIO. SHORTLY BEFORE THE COLLISION, THE EASTBOUND TRAIN HAD BEEN TRAVELING AT 33 MPH ON A MAIN TRACK EQUIPPED WITH AUTOMATICBLOCK SIGNALS WHEN THE DB OPERATOR CONTACTED THE TRAINCREW AND ADVISED THEM THAT THE ROUTE WAS CLEAR AHEAD. THEN, THE OPERATOR REMEMBERED THAT A BOAT HAD BEEN AWAITING PASSAGE AND, WITHOUT INFORMING THE TRAINCREW, HE OPENED THE BRIDGE. THE TRAIN PASSED THE RED HOME SIGNAL OF THE DB INTERLOCKING WITHOUT BRAKING AND STRUCK THE COUNTERWEIGHT OF THE OPEN BRIDGE ABOUT 600 FEET BEYOND THE SIGNAL. THE TWO CREWMEMBERS IN THE LEAD LOCOMOTIVE UNIT DIED AS A RESULT OF CRASH INJURIES. THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD DETERMINES THAT THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF THIS ACCIDENT WAS THE FAILURE OF THE LOCOMOTIVE CREWMEMBERS TO OBEY A WAYSIDE SIGNAL INDICATION TOSTOP AND THE CONCURRENT OPENING OF THE DRAWBRIDGE BY THE DB OPERATORAFTER HE HAD ADVISED THE ONCOMING TRAINCREW BY RADIO THAT THE ROUTE WAS CLEAR. CONTRIBUTING TO THE ACCIDENT WAS THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC RULES THAT EITHER PROHIBITED SUCH A RADIO MESSAGE OR DESCRIBED THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH SUCH A RADIO TRANSMITTAL COULD BE ACCEPTEDAS AN OPERATIONAL CONTROL.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE PENN CENTRAL TRANSPORTATION COMPANY: PROVIDE SPECIFIC, CURRENT OPERATIONAL CRITERIA TO DRAWBRIDGE OPERATORS TO GUIDE THEM IN THE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION OF BOTH TRAINS AND SHIPS. A COPY OF THESE AND ALL SUBSEQUENT INSTRUCTIONS SHOULD BE FURNISHED TO THE U.S. COAST GUARD TO INSURE THEIR AWARENESS OF CURRENT RAILROAD OPERATING PROCEDURES.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Cleveland, OH, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79812
Accident Reports: Collision of Penn Central Freight Train OV-8 with an Open Drawbridge
Report #: RAR-75-03
Accident Date: 5/8/1974
Issue Date: 3/26/1975
Date Closed: 9/14/1978
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Penn Central Transportation Company (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Penn Central Transportation Company
Date: 11/20/1978
Response: This recommendation (R-75-13) was classified "Closed-Acceptable Action," as the Safety Board accepted the Consolidated Rail Corporation's actions on its behalf.

From: NTSB
To: Penn Central Transportation Company
Date: 11/3/1977
Response: Regarding R-75-13, Mr. Langdon advised that a meeting with Coast Guard officials had brought areas of improved drawbridge operation to light and that the Safety Board would be kept informed of the progress made in future discussions. The Safety Board would appreciate substantive advice of the discussion results and corrective action applicable to the safety recommendation.

From: Penn Central Transportation Company
To: NTSB
Date: 7/28/1975
Response: JANUARY 25, 1978 LTR. FROM PRESIDENT SPENCE OF CONRAIL: 1. APPLICABLE RULES AND REGULATIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS HAVE BEEN PERMANENTLY POSTED IN EACH BRIDGE OPERATOR'S CONTROL STATION. 2. OPERATORS HAVE RECEIVED TRAINING IN SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS BY DIVISION RULES EXAMINERS. 3. BLOCK OPERATORS AND TRAIN DISPATCHERS HAVING JURISDICTION OVER THE OPERATION OF A BRIDGE HAVE RECEIVED SIMILAR INSTRUCTIONS AND TRAINING. 4. ADDITIONAL RADIO COMMUNICATION HAS BEEN INSTALLED IN PROBLEM AREAS. 5. CONRAIL RULES DEPARTMENT AND OPERATING OFFICERS HAVE ATTENDED SEVERAL MEETINGS WITH COAST GUARD REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND CLEVELAND, OHIO IN ADDITION TO COMMUNICATING BY TELEPHONE AND LETTER. 6. SUPERVISORS HAVE MADE FREQUENT FIELD INSPECTIONS TO MONITOR COMPLIANCE WITH RULES AND REGULATIONS. WHERE VARIATIONS HAVE EXISTED, DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES HAVE BEEN INVOKED. IT IS OUR INTENTTO FOLLOW THROUGH TO ASSURE THAT RULES AND REGULATIONS IN THIS AREA ARE STRICTLY OBSERVED.