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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-76-008
Details
Synopsis: ABOUT 11:00 P.M. ON JUNE 6, 1975, THREE FREIGHT TRAINS OF THE CENTRAL TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (PC) WERE INVOLVED IN A COLLISION NEAR LEETONIA, OHIO. EXTRA 6330 WEST COLLIDED WITH THE REAR OF STANDING EXTRA 2278 WEST. IMMEDIATELY THEREAFTER, EXTRA 6259 EAST, WHICH WAS ON AN ADJACENT TRACK, STRUCK THE WRECKED CARS FROM THE OTHER TWO TRAINS. ONE EMPLOYEE WAS KILLED AND SEVEN OTHERS WERE INJURED. PROPERTY DAMAGE AMOUNTED TO ABOUT $1.25 MILLION.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Require that trains be equipped with operable radios and that railroad management provide guidelines for their use in normal service and in emergency situations. (Superseded by R-85-129)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action/Superseded
Mode: Railroad
Location: Leetonia, OH, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79805
Accident Reports: Penn Central Transportation Company Train Collisions
Report #: RAR-76-02
Accident Date: 6/6/1975
Issue Date: 2/17/1976
Date Closed: 1/15/1986
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Unacceptable Action/Superseded)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 1/15/1986
Response: The Safety Board has long been interested in the application of radio use to railroad operations. Safety Recommendations have been issued to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) addressing the need for radios to be required equipment on trains, the need for compatibility of radios between railroad properties, and the need for standards governing the use of radios in the industry. Recommendations also have been issued to various individual properties on the same issues. Since 1976, the Safety Board has issued to the FRA three safety recommendations on the use of operable radios onboard trains, as follows: R-76-8 Require that trains be equipped with operable radios and that railroad management provide guidelines for their use in normal service and in emergency situations. R-79 -73 Establish regulations that would require all trains operating on a main track to be equipped with an operable radio. R-81-81 Initiate rulemaking to require trains which operate on common trackage to have compatible radio equipment which will permit emergency communication. All three recommendations are being held in an "Open--Unacceptable Action" status. It is interesting to note that, while over the past 10 years the FRA has not acted to resolve this issue, concern has been expressed at the highest levels. During the National Transportation Safety Board's National Accident Investigation Symposium held in Washington, D.C., July 30 - August 1, 1984, you stated: There were two things that I found imponderable before coming to FRA. One was the difficulty in reaching an agreement among all of the parties that would address in a fair way the alcohol and drug issue. The second imponderable was why we have been unable to develop a consistent program of radio communication in the railroad industry. Having addressed the first problem, we do intend to move to address the second, and we are going to begin proceedings that deal with the issue of communication, radio communication among railroad operating vehicles. The Safety Board appreciates the concern you expressed over a year ago and urges the FRA to move swiftly in its efforts to address the use of radios and radio communication standards to improve operational safety in the railroad industry. To underscore the Board's concern for this issue, Safety Recommendations R-76-8, R-79-73, and R-81-81 have been placed in a "Closed--Unacceptable Action/Superseded" status and a new recommendation is being issued which covers the general issue of radios in railroad transportation safety. R-85-129 superseded R-76-8, R-79-73, and R-81-81.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 2/25/1985
Response: The Board is aware that since the date of FRA's response to these recommendations, the Administrator of the FRA has indicated that examination of the issue of radio communications in railroad operations will be a top priority. The Safety Board looks forward to FRA's expeditious action in this area. However, pending formal notice of a change in FRA's position, Safety Recommendations R-76-8, R-79-73, and R-81-81 will remain in an "Open-Unacceptable Action" status.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/30/1984
Response: FRA LETTER: THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION CONDUCTED AN INFORMAL SURVEY OF THE MAJOR RAILROADS TO LEARN THE EXTENT OF RADIO INSTALLATION. WE FOUND THAT ALL THE LARGE CARRIERS HAVE EQUIPPED ALL OR MOST OF THEIR LOCOMOTIVES WITH RADIOS. MANY OF THE SMALLER RAILROADS ALSO USE RADIOS AS PART OF THEIR OPERATING PROCEDURES. SINCE MOST RAILROADS ARE ALREADY USING RADIOS A FEDERAL REQUIREMENT THAT THEY DO SO IS UNNECESSARY. THE EVENTS LEADING TO THESE RECOMMENDA TIONS ILLUSTRATED THE VIOLATION OF SEVERAL LAYERS OF OPERATING RULES AND THE NTSB RECOGNIZED THE SITUATION IN STATING THE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENTS. THE FRA HAS PROMULGATED REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE SAFE USE OF RADIOS AND REQUIRE MENTS PERTAINING TO OPERATING RULES, TRAINING, AND EFFICIENCY TESTING. THESE ITEMS WERE RECOGNIZED BY THE NTSB AND FRA AS BEING THE ACCIDENT CAUSAL FACTORS. THE FRA IS PLACING HEAVY EMPHASIS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SOUND OPERATING PRACTICES. WE ARE ACTIVELY MONITORING COMPLIANCE WITH THESE REQUIREMENTS WITH OUR INSPECTORS AND IMPROVEMENTS ARE BEING SHOWN. THIS IS A COST EFFECTIVE APPROACH. AS A RESULT OF THE MANY MERGERS IN RECENT YEARS, THE RAIL SYSTEM AND TRAFFIC PATTERNS HAVE CHANGED CONSIDERABLY AND MANY TRAINS WHICH FORMERLY OPERATED OVER TRACK OF TWO RAILROADS NOW OPERATE OVER TRACK CONTROLLED BY A SINGLE COMPANY. ADDITIONALLY, MANY RAILROADS HAVE INSTALLED A MULTI FREQUENCY CAPABILITY AT THEIR DISPATCHERS OFFICE, SO WHILE THE LOCOMOTIVES MAY NOT BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY, MESSAGES AND EMERGENCY INFORMATION CAN BE RELAYED THROUGH THE DISPATCHER. THE USE OF RADIOS HAS BEEN DEVELOPED BY THE RAILROADS TO AUGMENT OTHER OPERATING PROCEDURES. A REQUIRE MENT THAT ALL LOCOMOTIVES IN THE COUNTRY BE EQUIPPED WITH AN OPERABLE AND COMPATIBLE RADIO SYSTEMS, WITH ALL OTHER RAILROADS, WOULD BE EXTREMELY COSTLY AND CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED ON THE BASIS OF SAFETY BENEFITS EXCEEDING COSTS. THE FRA HAS INITIATED REGULATIONS DESIGNED TO CORRECT THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF ACCIDENTS RESULTING IN THESE RECOMMENDATIONS AND THEREFORE REQUESTS THAT RECOMMENDATIONS R-76-008, R-79-073, AND R-81-081 BE CLOSED.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/25/1977
Response: LTR. FROM THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION TO THE CHAIRMAN STAT THE REPORT IS RECEIVING CAREFUL CONSIDERATION BY THE DEPARTMENT'S ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENT, SAFETY AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS. ITHAS ALSO BEEN BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF OTHER APPROPRIATE DEPARTMENTAL OFFICIALS. APRIL 6, 1976 LTR. FROM FRA TO THE CHAIRMAN STATING: THEY ARE IN THE PROCESS OF REVIEWING THIS REPORT AND WILL FURNISH YOU THEIR COMMENTS PROMPTLY ON COMPLETION OF THEIR REVIEW...NOVEMBER 25, 1977 RESPONSE FROM FRA FRA HAS ISSUED A FINAL RULE CONCERNING THE USE OF RADIO COMMUNICATIONS WITH TRAIN OPERATIONS. A REGULATION THAT REQUIRES ALL CARRIERS TO HAVE TRAIN RADIOS FOR THE PURPOSE OF NOTIFYING A FOLLOWING TRAIN THAT A TRAIN AHEAD HAS STOPPED WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO JUSTIFY WHERE SIGNALS OR OTHER MEANS ARE PROVIDE TO FURNISH THE REQUIRED PROTECTION OR WHERE TRAFFIC VOLUME DID NOT JUSTIFY THE EXPENDITURE. THE NEW REGULATION (PART 220-RADIO STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES) DESCRIBES USE OF RADIOS IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS. THESE SITUATIONS ARE DERAILMENTS, COLLISIONS, STORMS, WASHOUTS, FIRES, OBSTRUCTION TO TRACKS AND OTHER HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS. "FRA BELIEVES THAT THIS WORDING WILL ENABLE A RAILROAD EQUIPPED WITH RADIO TO UTILIZE IT FOR TRANSMISSIONS BETWEEN A STOPPED TRAIN AND A FOLLOWING TRAIN." "ALTHOUGH THE RADIO REGULATIONS DOES NOT REQUIRE A CARRIER TO EQUIP ITSELF WITH RADIO TO ACHIEVE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REGULATION, IT DOES DETAIL MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES WHICH A CARRIER MUST FOLLOW IN UTILIZINGRADIO FOR BOTH ROUTINE AND EMERGENCY OPERATIONS."

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 10/27/1977
Response: On March 25, 1976, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations R-76-6 through R-76-9 to the Federal Railroad Administration. These recommendations were also contained in NTSB report RAR-76-2, Appendix D. On April 6, 1976, Federal Railroad Administrator A.H. Hall advised the Safety Board that the FRA was in the process of reviewing the report, which dealt with the Penn Central collisions at Leetonia, Ohio, on June 6, 1975, and would furnish the Safety Board their comments promptly on completion of their review. To date, there has been no followup response.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 9/10/1976
Response: From the railroad accident report of the head-on collision of two Penn Central Transportation Company freight trains near Pettisville, Ohio on February 4, 1976. The Board adopted this report on 9/10/1976. In addition to these recommendations, the Safety Board reiterates the following recommendations which were made to the Federal Railroad Administration as a result of other train collisions: R-76-8, R-73-9, R-73-11, and R-76-3.