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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-80-050
Details
Synopsis: ON APRIL 2, 1980, NORTHBOUND AMTRAK PASSENGER TRAIN NO. 82 COLLIDED HEAD-ON WITH SEABOARD COAST LINE RAILROAD (SCL) FREIGHT TRAIN EXTRA 2771 SOUTH AT LAKEVIEW, NORTH CAROLINA. TRAIN NO. 82 OVERRAN A STOP SIGNAL AT THE NORTH END OF THE DOUBLE TRACK AND ENTERED THE SINGLE TRACK WHICH EXTRA 2771 SOUTH HAD BEEN AUTHORIZED TO USE. TWENTY-NINE CREWMEMBERS AND NINETY FOUR PASSENGERS WERE INJURED, AND DAMAGE WAS ESTIMATED AT $1,145,492.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE SEABOARD COAST LINE RAILROAD: DEVELOP A PROGRAM FOR ITS SIGNAL SYSTEM THAT WILL REQUIRE, AS A MINIMUM, THAT ALL MAINLINE TRAINS BE EQUIPPED WITH CONTINUOUS CAB SIGNALS IN CONJUNCTION WITH AUTOMATIC-BLOCK SIGNALS AND THAT ALL PASSENGER TRAINS AND PASSENGER TRAIN ROUTES BE EQUIPPED WITH CONTINUOUS AUTOMATIC-SPEED CONTROL (TRAIN CONTROL).
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Lakeview, NC, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79773
Accident Reports: Head On Collision Between Amtrak Train No. 82 and Seaboard Coast Line Extra 2771 South
Report #: RAR-80-08
Accident Date: 4/2/1980
Issue Date: 11/21/1980
Date Closed: 8/23/1983
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: CSX Transportation, Inc. (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 8/23/1983
Response: While we do not agree with the conclusions you have reached regarding the use of continuous cab signal and automatic-speed control, we appreciate that you have given the matter consideration. We had hoped to convince the Seaboard System, through our report in the Lakeview, North Carolina, accident and our May 9, 1983, letter, of the need for both an improved signal system and enhanced training. Our intent was to persuade you to add continuous cab signals and automatic train control, particularly on passenger train routes, as you upgraded the Seaboard system signals. It is obvious that you are not going to alter your position and, as stated earlier, the Board is convinced of the need described. Therefore, we have placed Safety Recommendation R-80-50 in a "Closed-Unacceptable Action" status. It is our intention to closely observe future accidents on all properties to determine the role played by signal systems.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 6/6/1983
Response: SEABOARD COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY LETTER: AS A RESULT OF OUR EXPERIENCE WITH THESE SYSTEMS, AND THE FACT THAT THEY WERE CONSIDERED BY THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION AS UNNECESSARY FOR A SAFE RAIL OPERATION CONVINCED US TO DISCONTINUE THE SYSTEMS. WE FULLY UNDERSTAND THAT THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE BOARD WAS MADE IN COMPLETE GOOD FAITH, BUT OUR EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN SHOWN THAT IT DOES NOT ELIMINATE HUMAN FAILURE. AS A RESULT OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE BOARD, WE HAVE MAXIMIZED OUR EFFORTS TO TRAIN OPERATING PERSONNEL AND ARE CONTINUING TO DO SO.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 5/9/1983
Response: In spite of the fact that today's rail signal systems have been well engineered, the Safety Board believes that the maximum practical level of safety in train operations that can be obtained with signals and automatic train controls has not been reached. The continuing occurrence of collisions between trains operating by signal indications suggests that electronic or mechanical backup is needed. As long as the safety of the train operations depends upon the judgements of the employees, accidents will continue to occur. The technology is available to provide, at a reasonable cost, the signal systems and backup appliances to overcome many of the conditions and circumstances which lead to costly collisions. Although the installation of improved signal systems may not erase these damage figures, it could become significant in reducing them. The Safety Board does realize the need for improving the training of employees to reduce the incidence of human error. An improved employee training program, including methods to reduce human error in reading and interpreting signals, would go far in reducing the cost of and increasing the benefits of the necessary signal improvements. The Safety Board requests that you take a closer look at the merits of achieving a proper balance between an improved Family Lines rail signal system and an improved employee training program as an inherent potential for efficient train operation. We will hold our file for Safety Recommendation R-80-50 in an open status pending your further response.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 12/10/1981
Response: SEABOARD COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY LETTER: WE DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO RECONCILE THE WORK OF YOUR AGENCY AND THAT OF THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION, BUT ARE ALL COGNIZANT IT IS THE LATTER AGENCY THAT PROMULGATES REGULATIONS SUCH AS THOSE INVOLVING AUTOMATIC SPEED CONTROL DEVICES. IT CONCERNS US THAT YOUR AGENCY SEEKS TO DO RAILROAD-BY-RAILROAD WHAT IS MORE APPROPRIATELY A FUNCTION REQUIRING UNIFORM APPLICATION BY THE FRA, IF THAT REPRESENTS ITS BEST JUDGEMENT. WHILE YOU DEEM THE INSTALLATION OF SUCH EQUIPMENT AS BEING WARRANTED, WE ALL RECOGNIZE IT AS AIMED AT AVOIDING THE POTENTIAL HARM THAT FOLLOWS FROM HUMAN FAILURE. YET WE ALSO KNOW THAT SUCH EQUIPMENT CAN, BY NECESSITY, BE OVERRIDDEN AND THUS THE POTENTIAL OF HUMAN FAILURE WOULD YET REMAIN. IT IS OUR POSITION, THEREFORE, THAT THE FAMILY LINES RAIL SYSTEM IS RECEIVING THE GREATEST BENEFIT FROM ITS SAFETY PROGRAM AS EVIDENCED BY OUR VASTLY IMPROVED PERFORMANCE. WE DEEM, THIS AS OUR MANDATE AND YOU ARE ASSURED THESE EFFORTS WILL CONTINUE.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 12/1/1981
Response: On November 21, 1980, the National Transportation Safety Board issued Safety Recommendation R-80-50 to the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (SCL) as a result of Amtrak train No. 82 colliding head-on with SCL freight train Extra 2771 South at Lakeview, North Carolina, April 2, 1980. In reviewing our files of this safety recommendation, we found no record that a response had been received. For your convenience we have enclosed a copy of both the letter of recommendation and the accident report. In order to update our files of the recommendation, we would appreciate learning what actions the SCL has taken towards implementing the intent of the recommendation. Recommendation R-80-50 is presently in an open status and will remain so pending your reply.