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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-79-061
Details
Synopsis: ON JANUARY 31, 1979, CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION (CONRAIL) FREIGHT TRAIN CNEN-O COLLIDED WITH THE REAR OF STANDING CONRAIL FREIGHT SYEN-O AT MUNCY, PENNSYLVANIA. THE LEAD LOCOMOTIVE UNIT OF TRAIN CNEN-O WAS DESTROYED, THE SECOND UNIT WAS HEAVILY DAMAGED, AND 14 CARS DAMAGED. FOUR CARS OF TRAIN SYEN-O WERE DESTROYED, AND ONE WAS HEAVILY DAMAGED. TWO CREWMEMBERS WERE KILLED AND THREE WERE INJURED.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Promulgate regulations to require the conductor or other employee in charge of the train to be located and informed so that he can properly supervise the safe operation of the train. (Superseded by R-84-37)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Superseded
Mode: Railroad
Location: Muncy, PA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79763
Accident Reports: Rear End Collision of Two Consolidated Rail Corporation Freight Trains
Report #: RAR-79-06
Accident Date: 1/31/1979
Issue Date: 9/19/1979
Date Closed: 2/25/1985
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Superseded)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 10/24/2011
Response: Notation 8351: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), "Positive Train Control Systems," that was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2011. The NPRM proposes amendments to FRA regulations implementing a provision of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that mandates that certain passenger and freight railroads implement positive train control (PTC) systems by December 31, 2015. Consistent with statute, the final rule became effective March 16, 2010, and established new regulations requiring each Class I railroad over which (1) poisonous-by-inhalation (PIH) or toxic-by-inhalation (TIH) hazardous materials are transported and (2) regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation travels to implement a PTC system by December 31, 2015. The FRA is seeking further comments on its proposal to amend the regulations by eliminating two qualifying tests-the alternate route analysis and the residual risk analysis-that are required to avoid PTC system implementation on track segments that do not transport PIH and TIH hazardous materials traffic and are not used for intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation as of December 31, 2015. The NTSB has continued to follow the recent litigation between the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the FRA regarding PTC implementation. The NTSB also is aware of Executive Order 13563, issued on January 18, 2011, which requires federal agencies to review significant regulations to determine if they are outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome. Further, Vice Chairman Hart testified before the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, to affirm our strong support of the significant safety benefits that can be accomplished with implementation of PTC systems on our nation's railroads. The NTSB offers the following comments on this section of the NPRM: Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 236.1005, "Requirements for Positive Train Control Systems" When the final rule addressing PTC implementation was issued in 2010, the FRA requested additional comments on specific issues. In our previously submitted comments, the NTSB acknowledged the fact that traffic patterns will likely change to some degree before December 31, 2015. These changes in traffic patterns will necessitate appropriately justified adjustments to the track segments on which PTC must be installed. The NTSB believes that the final rule as written provides enough flexibility to railroads, either at the time of initial filing of their PTC Implementation Plans (which has already passed) or through a request for amendment, to subsequently address changes in traffic patterns. In addition to requiring PTC system implementation on railroad lines over which (1) PIH or TIH hazardous materials are transported and (2) regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation travels, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 also requires PTC systems to be implemented on other tracks as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may prescribe by regulation or order. The NTSB believes the track segments that will be selected for PTC implementation will be reviewed and considered by the FRA in accordance with its discretionary authority. But the NTSB is concerned that by eliminating the requirements for an alternate route analysis and a residual risk analysis as currently required by the final rule in order for railroads to avoid PTC system implementation, the FRA's ability to identify other high-risk corridors will be hampered. The NTSB strongly encourages the FRA to maintain the railroads' current PTC Implementation Plans so that the traveling public, railroad employees, and communities near rail lines receive the maximum safety benefits. The NTSB will continue to monitor and offer safety recommendations as a result of its accident investigations to improve the effectiveness of PTC standards. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this NPRM. Should you require any additional information or clarification, please contact us.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 2/25/1985
Response: The Board's investigation of the accident at Muncy, Pennsylvania, on January 31, 1979, which resulted in the issuance of Safety recommendation R-79-61, revealed that the engineer and headbrakeman were not alert and were inattentive to wayside signals. If there had been the requirement for the head-end-crew to radio the signal aspects to the rear-end crew, the lack of communication probably would have prompted the conductor to take some positive action. Since the objective of R-79-61 is addressed in the new recommendation, R-84-37, R-79-61 is being placed in a "Closed-Superseded" status, also.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/30/1984
Response: FRA LETTER: THE FRA HAS PROMULGATED REGULATIONS THAT REQUIRE THE RAILROADS TO FILE THEIR OPERATING RULES WITH THE FRA. THESE OPERATING RULES ALL CONTAIN A RULE 34 REQUIRING THE COMMUNICATION OF SIGNAL INDICATIONS. ADDITIONALLY, THE RAILROADS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE TRAINING AND OPERATIONAL TESTING PROGRAMS ON THE OPERATING RULES. THE RAILROADS ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT ON THEIR OPERATIONAL TESTS ANNUALLY. FRA'S OPERATING PRACTICES INSPECTORS REGULARLY MONITOR THE RULE 34 REQUIREMENTS, AND HAVE FOUND A HIGH COMPLIANCE LEVEL. THE FRA BELIEVES ITS ACTION IN DEVELOPING AND ENFORCING THE OPERATING RULES PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHES THE INTENT OF RECOMMENDATIONS R-76-050 AND R-79-061 AND, THEREFORE, REQUESTS THAT THEY BE CLOSED.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/28/1981
Response:

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 7/1/1981
Response:

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/13/1979
Response: FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION LTR: WE ASSUME THAT YOUR RECOMMENDATION, WHILE NOT SPECIFICALLY STATING, DOES IN FACT CALL FOR THE CONDUCTOR BEING IN THE LOCOMOTIVE CAB WITH THE ENGINEER SO THAT HE WOULD TAKE ACTION IF HE OBSERVED ANY INATTENTION ON THE PART OF OTHER CREW MEMBERS. IN THE TRAIN OPERATION ENVIRONMENT, CONDITIONS OCCUR WHICH CALL FOR RESPONSIBLE ACTION BY CREWMEN ON THE REAR OF THE TRAIN, AS WELL AS THE HEAD OF THE TRAIN. REAR BRAKEMEN ARE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE FOR FLAG PROTECTION, OBSERVE THEIR RUNNING TRAIN FOR OVERHEATED JOURNALS, DRAGGING EQUIPMENT, AND SHIFTED LOADS. THE CONDUCTOR'S ABILITY TO SUPERVISE THE SAFE OPERATION OF THE REAR OF THE TRAIN MAY NOT BE ENHANCED BY PLACING HIM IN THE CAB OF THE LOCOMOTIVE. IN MOST INSTANCES, THE ENGINEER AND CONDUCTOR ARE THE MOST EXPERIENCED CREWMEN ONBOARD THE TRAIN, AND IT IS ADVANTAGEOUS TO UTILIZE THAT EXPERIENCE FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE TRAIN FROM BOTH THE FRONT END AND THE REAR END. ADDITIONALLY, THE EVER INCREASING USE OF RADIO TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION IN THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY WILL FURTHER ASSIST THE CONDUCTOR IN SUPERVISING THE SAFE OPERATION OF THE TRAIN. THE FRA BELIEVES THAT OUR PREVIOUS RESPONSE TO YOUR RECOMMENDATION (R-73-11) IS A VALID RESPONSE TO BOTH RECOMMENDATIONS. WE REITERATE THAT RESPONSE.