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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-80-054
Details
Synopsis: ON JULY 17, 1980, SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (SEPTA)-CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION (CONRAIL) COMMUTER TRAIN NO. 472 STRUCK THE REAR OF SEPTA-CONRAIL COMMUTER TRAIN NO. 406 WHILE IT WAS STANDING ON THE NO. 2 TRACK EAST OF THE STATION AT NORTH WALES, PENNSYLVANIA. THE REAR CAR OF TRAIN NO. 406 OVERRODE AND DESTROYED THE EMPTY LEAD CAR OF TRAIN NO. 472. OF THE ESTIMATED 321 PERSONS ON THE 2 TRAINS, 64 PASSENGERS AND 3 CREWMEMBERS RECEIVED INJURIES. DAMAGE TO THE EQUIPMENT WAS ESTIMATED AT $1,475,000.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: AMEND CFR 49 PART 221.15(C)3 TO PROHIBIT THE USE OF THE WHITE REAR HEADLIGHT AS A MARKING DEVICE ON ANY TRAIN.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: North Wales, PA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA80AR045
Accident Reports: Rear End Collision of Septa Conrail Trains Nos. 406 and 472 on Conrail Track
Report #: RAR-80-11
Accident Date: 7/17/1980
Issue Date: 1/5/1981
Date Closed: 2/25/1985
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 2/25/1985
Response: The FRA’s response appears to address only papsenger operations. However, the confusion which can be created by the use of the whi!te rear headlight can arise just as easily in freight operations, especially for traincrews~operating in multi-track territory. The Board notes FRA”s statement that a few regions reported the use of a dim headlight on a helper or light locomotive. This appears to be i conflict with the objective of the recommendation. n In view of FRA’s continued reluctance to implement the recommendation, R-IBO-54 has been placed in a Vldsed-Unacceptable Action” status. The Board will continue to address this safety issue in future pertinent accident investigations.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/30/1984
Response: FRA LETTER: THE ACCIDENT RESULTING IN THIS RECOMMENDATION OCCURRED UNDER UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING THE PUSHING OF A MULTIPLE-UNIT COMMUTER CAR AHEAD OF THE CAR BEING USED TO CONTROL THE MOVEMENT. IN OUR PREVIOUS RESPONSE TO THIS RECOMMENDATION WE STATED THE SAFETY OF TRAIN OPERATIONS SHOULD BE ACHIEVED PRIMARILY THROUGH CONTROL SYSTEMS, OPERATING RULES, AND PROCEDURES. ADDITIONALLY, WE STATED THE REGIONAL DIRECTORS WOULD DETERMINE THE EXTENT TO WHICH HEADLIGHTS WERE BEING USED AS MARKING DEVICES. ONLY TWO INSTANCES WERE FOUND IN PASSENGER OPERATIONS. IN BOSTON, THEY ARE USED ON CERTAIN MBTA TRAINS. HOWEVER, THE CARS ARE ALL BEING RETROFITTED. THE ONLY OTHER PLACE IS IN PHILADELPHIA WHERE RESPONSIBILITY FOR COMMUTER SERVICE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM CONRAIL TO SEPTA ON JANUARY 1, 1983. CONRAIL HAD BEEN RETROFITTING THE CARS. WE WILL FOLLOW UP WITH SEPTA. THERE ARE NO OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE COUNTRY WHERE HEADLIGHTS ARE USED AS MARKING DEVICES ON PASSENGER TRAINS. THE OTHER REGIONS REPORTED A DIM HEADLIGHT COULD BE USED ON A HELPER OR LIGHT LOCOMOTIVE. FRA BELIEVES THE ACTION TAKEN IS RESPONSIVE TO NTSB RECOMMENDATION R-80-054 AND REQUESTS THAT IT BE CLOSED.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/21/1981
Response:

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 8/17/1981
Response: The Safety Board notes the FRA's commenti regarding rear-end-headlights as a marking device and feels that it is missing the intent of the recommendation, particularly for trains operating in multi-track territory. Had the rear facing headlight been either been flashing, oscillating, or colored, the confusion on the double tracks at North Wales would not have arisen. A white light is very understandably interpreted to indicate the front of a train. Conversely, red and orange are regarded as appropriate colors to indicate the rear since they connote caution. On the dedicated tracks at North Whales, therefore, a white light on a train in the double tracks a operator that it is the front of the train he sees, that it is therefore approaching, but more importantly, that it is on that it is on the other track and that it is safe to maintain his speed. The PRA Beems to feel the Board is recommending that instant compliance isrequired, when in fact a program of this nature ought to be phased in so as to minimize costs and disruptions. A review of the legislative history reveals a Congressional concern over rear-end train collisions and an intent to provide train crews with a means by which to determine the presence of another train on the same track ahead of their train. Therefore, prohibiting use of a white light as a rear marker would be a positive step alleviating this concern. The Safety Board requests that the FRA reconsider recommendation R-80-54 because of these safety problems and the large number of passengers who could be affected. Pending receipt of your response, we will hold it in an "Open--Unacceptable Action" status.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/14/1981
Response: FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION LTR: THE FRA PERMITS THE USE OF A LOCOMOTIVE HEADLIGHT AS A REAR-END MARKING DEVICE TO ACCOMMODATE CERTAIN TRAIN OPERATIONS SUCH AS HELPER SERVICE AND PUSH-PULL COMMUTER PASSENGER TRAINS WHERE LOCOMOTIVES ARE ROUTINELY OPERATED AT THE REAR OF THE TRAIN. THIS ENABLES RAILROADS WITH THIS TYPE OF OPERATION TO HAVE A HIGHLY VISIBLE MARKING DEVICE AT THE REAR OF A TRAIN WITHOUT UNDUE DISRUPTION TO NORMAL TRAIN OPERATIONS. REQUIRING ALL RAILROADS TO IMMEDIATELY RETROFIT ALL TRAINS WITH RED OR AMBER REAR LIGHTS WOULD SERIOUSLY DISRUPT COMMUTER PASSENGER SERVICE AND RESULT IN UNWARRANTED COSTS TO THE RAILROADS. THE FRA DOES NOT INTEND TO AMEND 49 CFR 221.15(C)3.