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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-83-050
Details
Synopsis: ON MAY 31, 1982, NORTHBOUND SEABOARD COAST LINE (SCL) FREIGHT TRAIN NO. 120 DERAILED AT THE SWIFT CREEK BRIDGE IN COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VIRGINIA, FOLLOWING A HARD RUN IN OF SLACK WHICH OCCURRED WHEN THE TRAIN TRANSITED A CHANGE IN GRADES. THE TRAIN WAS CLASSIFIED AS RESTRICTED BY SCL TIMETABLE DESIGNATION WITH A MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED SPEED OF 50 MPH. THE ENGINEER STATED THE TRAIN SPEED WAS 45 MPH AT THE TIME OF DERAILMENT; HOWEVER, TESTS CONDUCTED FOLLOWING THE ACCIDENT INDICATE THAT THE TRAIN SPEED WAS 64 MPH WHEN THE TRAIN DERAILED. CARS NO. 89 THROUGH NO. 118 DERAILED. A TANK CAR WAS BREACHED IN THE DERAILMENT, AND ITS CONTENTS WERE RELEASED AND IMMEDIATELY IGNITED. NO CREWMEBERS WERE INJURED AS A RESULT OF THE ACCIDENT, BUT 12 FIREFIGHTERS AND A STATE EMERGENCY OFFICIAL COLLAPSED DURING FIREFIGHTING OPERATIONS. ERRONEOUS AND CONFLICTING INFORMATION CONCERNING HAZARDOUS MATERIAL ON THE TRAIN CAUSED CONFUSION AND MISDIRECTED EMERGENCY RESPONSE EFFORTS.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE SEABOARD SYSTEM RAILROAD: REVISE THE ENGINEERS' RETRAINING PROGRAM TO REQUIRE ANNUAL ATTENDANCE AT THE TRAIN DYNAMICS ANALYZER CLASSES WITH SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON CORRECTING DEFICIENCIES OBSERVED BY SUPERVISORS WHILE EVALUATING THE ENGINEERS' PERFORMANCE IN SERVICE.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Colonial Heights, VA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA82AR013
Accident Reports: Derailment of Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Train No. 120
Report #: RAR-83-04
Accident Date: 5/31/1982
Issue Date: 5/24/1983
Date Closed: 2/18/1986
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: CSX Transportation, Inc. (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Training and Education

Safety Recommendation History
From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 4/20/1987
Response: Insofar as Recommendations R-83-50 and 51 are concerned, Road Foreman, inaddition to providing continual monitoring of engineers' performance, provide hands-on instructions to road engineers at least oncee every ninety days. All engineers are provided with aTrain Handling Manual which is currently being revised. In summary, it is felt that we have established train makeup and operation guidelines systewide according to the principles of track/train dynamics. We do appreciate your suggestions.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 1/12/1987
Response: The Safety Board is aware that CSX Transportation has complied with many of the Board's Safety Recommendations in the past, and we have been encouraged by these efforts to enhance the safety of your railroad operations. With respect to Safety Recommendations R-83-50 and -51, the Board notes, however, that CSX Transportation's position regarding the intent of these recommendations remains unchanged; attendance at the train dynamics analyzer classes continues to be voluntary. The train dynamics analyzer program can highlight train handling deficiences that may otherwise remain undetected by rules examinations and meetings and efficiency observation checks. Since the Board continues to believe in the merits of Safety Recommendations R-83-50 and -51 and since CSX Transportation's position has not changed, these recommendations will remain in a "Closed--Unacceptable Action" status.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 11/6/1986
Response: WE AT CSX ARE OPEN TO FRESH IDEAS TO ENHANCE SAFETY OF THE EMPLOYEES AND THE WORK PLACE; AND, AS YOU KNOW, WE HAVE ADOPTED MANY OF YOUR BOARD'S RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE PAST. OUR POSITION ON THESE TWO MATTER REAINS UNALTERED FOR SEVERAL REASONS: (1) WE HAVE IN PLACE, AS YOU KNOW, A MANDATORY ANUUAL RULES EXAM ADMINISTERED BY A QUALIFIED DIVISION OFFICER AND USUALLY AIDED BY A ROAD FOREMAN OF ENGINES. (2) THE ROAD FOREMAN PROVIDES INSTRUCTIONS ON CURRENT MATTERS INCLUDING TRAIN HANDLING AND MECHANICAL MATTERS AT BI-MONTHLY RULE MEETINGS. (3) THE TRAIN DYNAMICS ANALYZER IS SCHEDULED AT EACH TERMINAL THROUGHOUT THE YEAR AND IS OPEN ON A VOLUNTARY BASIS TO ALL ENGINE EMPLOYEES. RESPONSE HAS NOT ONLY BEEN HELPFUL, BUT IMPRESSIVE. (4) ALL OF OUR T&E EMPLOYEES ARE CLOSELY MONITORES THROUGH EFFI CIENCY OBSERVATION CHECKS AND, IN THE CASE OF ENGINEERS, OUR ROAD FOREMAN RIDE WITH THEM AS REQUIRED FOR HANDS-ON TRAINING IF NEED BE. MOREOVER, EACH "TRAIN SEPARATION REPORT" IS REVIEWED BY THE ROAD FOREMAN WHEN THERE IS AN OCCURRENCE AND REMEDIAL ACTION IS PROMPTLY TAKEN. (5) IF FOR EXAMPLE, AN ENGINEER WAS UNFIT FOR SERVICE OF INCORRI GIBLE, THEN THE MEDICAL AND DISCIPLINARY PROCESSES WOULD COME INTO PLAY. LASTLY, YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS AND OUR CURRENT OPERATING PRACTICE ARE VERY CLOSE, AND BECAUSE OF THAT IT IS OUR HOPE THAT R-83-50 AND R-83-51 WILL PLACED IN A CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE STATUS.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 9/22/1986
Response: The Board notes that the company's position regarding Safety Recommendations R-83-50 and -51 remains unchanged. In view of this and since the Board continues to believe in the merits of requiring annual attendance at train dynamics analyzer classes, Safety Recommendations R-83-50 and -51 will remain in a "Closed--Unacceptable Action" status.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 7/24/1986
Response: ENGINEERS THAT HAVE A POOR PERFORMANCE RECORD ARE REQUIRED TO ATTEND RETRAINING CLASSES. IF THEY FAIL TO DEMONSTRATE PROFICIENCY DURING THESE RETRAINING PERIODS, THEY ARE RESTRICTED TO YARD OR HOSTLING SERVICE. THIS METHOD HAS PROVEN TO BE SATISFACTORY, AND WE SEE NO NEED TO REQUIRE ANNUAL ATTENDANCE OF ALL ENGINE SERVICE EMPLOYEES.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 2/18/1986
Response: While the Safety Board appreciates receiving the information regarding the number of service employees who have attended retraining classes, the Board continues to believe that (1) annual attendance should be required and (2) those engineers who were required to attend because of train handling deficiencies should be required to demonstrate proficiency before being allowed to return to service. Since it appears that further dialogue on this topic at this time will not convince the SBD that the Board's recommendation have merit, we have placed Safety Recommendations R-83-50 and -51 in a "Closed--Unacceptable Action" status. The Board will, however, continue to address this important safety issue in future pertinent accident investigations.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 10/25/1985
Response: RETRAINING CLASS ATTENDANCE REMAINS VOLUNTARY, EXCEPT WHERE DEFICIENCIES ARE NOTED, THEN THE ENGINEER IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND. APPROXIMATELY 2,150 ENGINE SERVICE EMPLOYEES WERE RETRAINED IN 1984 AND 1,395 IN 1985 (JANUARY THROUGH SEPTEMBER). FORTY-EIGHT OF THESE WERE REQUIRED TO ATTEND BECAUSE OF TRAIN HANDLING DEFICIENCIES. SIX OF THE 48 HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED FOR ROAD SERVICE. THOSE DISQUALIFIED MAY ATTEND TRAINING CLASSES, THAT ARE BEING CONDUCTED, AT THEIR CONVENIENCE AND EXPENSE IF THEY SO DESIRE. THEY ALSO ARE ALLOWED TO CUB LINE OF ROAD TRAINS WITH QUALIFIED ENGINEERS ACCOMPANIED BY THE ROAD FOREMAN OF ENGINES. TO REQUALIFY FOR ROAD SERVICE, THEY MUST DEMONSTRATE PROFICIENCY IN TRAIN HANDLING ON THE JOB. THOSE ENGINEERS DISQUALIFIED WILL REMAIN IN YARD SERVICE UNTIL THEY DO REQUALIFY.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 9/3/1985
Response: The Safety Board notes that while retraining class attendance remains voluntary, except when deficiencies in the engineers' performance are noted, 2,150 engineers attended retraining classes in 1984. The Board further notes, however, that there was no indication as to whether these engineers attended retraining classes voluntarily or as a result of deficiencies noted in their performance. The Board continues to believe that required annual attendance is necessary to assure that engineers who either will not volunteer for retraining or whose deficiencies have gone unnoticed by supervisors receive the necessary retraining. It also continues to be the Board's position that an engineer who has been required to attend retraining classes because of noted deficiencies should be required to demonstrate his proficiency in train handling before being allowed to return to service. The Board again urges the Seaboard System to reconsider Safety Recommendations R-83-50 and -51, which will be held in an "Open--Unacceptable Action" status pending further response.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 3/11/1985
Response: SSR LTR: RETRAINING CLASS ATTENDANCE REMAINS VOLUNTARY, EXCEPT WHERE DEFICIENCIES ARE NOTED, THEN THE ENGINEER IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND. THE SUBJECTS INCLUDED IN THIS RETRAINING ARE: (A) OPERATION OF 26L LOCOMOTIVE BRAKE EQUIPMENT; (B) OPERATION OF ABD AND ABDW AIR BRAKE EQUIPMENT; (C) AIR BRAKE TESTS; (D) DYNAMIC BRAKES (BASIC KNOWLEDGE AND OPERATION); (E) TRAIN HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS; (F) TRAIN HANDLE UTILIZING THE TDA; AND (G) LOCOMOTIVE FAMILIARIZATION. DURING 1984, SOME 2,150 ENGINEERS ATTENDED RETRAINING CLASSES.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 1/11/1985
Response: The SBD indicates that Road Foremen of Engines are constantly evaluating the performance of all engineers, and when deficiencies are noted, the engineer is required to attend retraining classes. The SBD further indicates that the area of the inadequate performance determines the type of retraining and the number of days the engineer must attend. At the time of the accident, however, all retraining was offered to engineers on a voluntary basis. In view of this, the Safety Board would appreciate being informed if SBD has made a policy change regarding engineer retraining since the accident. We would appreciate specific information regarding the types of retraining offered and required and the number of engineers that have attended these retraining classes. Pending further response, Safety Recommendation R-83-50 will be held in an “Open-- Acceptable Action” status.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 7/24/1984
Response: SBD LETTER: ANNUAL ATTENDANCE AT RETRAINING CLASSES IS NOT A REQUIREMENT ON ALL PARTS OF SBD'S SYSTEM. HOWEVER, ROAD FOREMAN OF ENGINES ARE CONSTANTLY EVALUATING THE PERFORMANCES OF ALL ENGINEERS, AND WHEN DEFICIENCIES ARE NOTED, THE ENGINEER IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND RETRAINING CLASSES. THE AREA OF THE INADEQUATE PERFORMANCE DETERMINES THE TYPE OF RETRAINING AND THE NUMBER OF DAYS THE ENGINEER MUST ATTEND. THE RETRAINING PROGRAM CONSISTS OF: 1. TRAIN HANDLING: WE UTILIZE FOUR 32-FOOT MOTOR VANS, EACH EQUIPPED WITH A TRAIN DYNAMICS ANALYZER ("TDA"). 2. AIR BRAKE OPERATIONS: THIS INCLUDES RAIL TRAINING CARS EQUIPPED WITH AIR BRAKE RACKS, SLIDE/FILM PRESENTA- TIONS, ETC. 3. LOCOMOTIVE OPERATION: INVOLVES DYNAMIC BRAKE TESTING AND LOCOMOTIVE TROUBLE SHOOTING.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 4/30/1984
Response: The Board notes that annual attendance at train dynamics analyzer (TDA) classes is required on a portion of the railroad and that SCL is considering making annual attendance mandatory for all engineers. While the Board strongly urges SCL to take this action, the Board points out that TDA training is most effective if emphasis is placed on correcting deficiencies that supervisors have noted while observing the engineers’ performance in service. Pending SCL’s further consideration, we will hold Safety Recommendation R-83-50 in an ‘*Open-Acceptable Action” status. With regard to the instructor being “aware of the engineer’s deficiencies,” the Safety Board points out that the instructor testified that he had not been made aware of the engineer’s problems.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 7/22/1983
Response: SEABOARD SYSTEM RAILROAD LETTER: EXCEPT FOR REQUIRED ANNUAL ATTENDANCE, WE HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE POLICY. AS EXPLAINED BELOW, ANNUAL ATTENDANCE IS NOT A REQUIREMENT ON ALL PARTS OF THE RAILROAD. WE ARE ANALYZING THIS ASPECT OF THE RECOMMENDATION. CONTRARY TO STATEMENTS MADE IN THE NTSB REPORT OF THEIR INVESTIGATION, THE ENGINEER INVOLVED IN THIS ACCIDENT, WHEN INSTRUCTED TO REPORT TO THE TDA CLASSES, WAS KNOWN TO THE INSTRUCTOR, AND THE INSTRUCTOR HAD BEEN MADE AWARE OF THE ENGINEER'S PROBLEMS WITH TRAIN HANDLING BY THE DIVISION ROAD FOREMAN OF ENGINES. THE INSTRUCTIONS THE ENGINEER RECEIVED WERE DESIGNED TO ASSIST THE ENGINEER IN OVERCOMING ANY DEFICIENCIES THAT HE MIGHT HAVE. IT IS INFREQUENT THAT THE INSTRUCTOR IS NOT AWARE OF THE ENGINEER'S CAPABILITIES WHEN THE ENGINEER ATTENDS A CLASS. EMPHASIS IS PLACED UPON ANY WEAKNESS THAT IS KNOWN, OR IS DEMONSTRATED TO THE INSTRUCTOR DURING THE TRAINING. CONSIDERATION IS BEING GIVEN TO MAKING ANNUAL ATTENDANCE AT TRAIN DYMANICS ANALYZER CLASSES MANDATORY FOR ALL ENGINEERS. THROUGH EXISTING LABOR AGREEEMENTS, WE ARE ABLE TO REQUIRE SUCH TRAINING ON A PORTION OF THE RAILROAD. TO A LIMITED DEGREE, WE HAVE MADE ATTENDANCE MANDATORY ON OTHER PARTS OF THE RAILROAD WHERE THERE HAS BEEN A SURPLUS OF ENGINEERS DUE TO THE BUSINESS LEVEL. SUCH TRAINING IS BENEFICIAL, AND EVERY METHOD OF TRAINING WITHIN A REASONABLE ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK WILL BE CONSIDERED.