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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-83-051
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: REQUIRE ENGINEERS WHO FAIL TO DEMONSTRATE PROFICIENCY IN TRAIN HANDLING DURING MANDATORY TRAIN DYNAMICS ANALYZER CLASSES TO ATTEND THE ENGINEERS TRAINING SCHOOL AND THERE AFTER REQUIRE THAT THEY DEMONSTRATE AN ABILITY TO PROPERLY OPERATE A TRAIN BEFORE BEING ALLOWED TO RETURN TO TRAIN 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 TRAIN ING 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 INCORRIGIBLE, 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: THE TRAIN DYNAMICS ANALYZER IS NOT USED TO QUALIFY OR DISQUALIFY. IT IS USED TO IMPROVE THE TRAIN HANDLING SKILLS OF THE ENGINEER AND TO INTRODUCE NEW CONCEPTS OF TRAIN HANDLING. THE ROAD FOREMAN OF ENGINES OBSERVED AND EVALUATES THE ENGINEER'S PERFORMANCE ON THE JOB, AND HIS DECISION TO QUALIFY OR DISQUALIFY THE ENGINEER IS BASED ON THESE OBSERVATIONS. WHEN AN ENGINEER FAILS TO DEMONSTRATE PROFICIENCY IN TRAIN HANDLING, HE IS THEN REQUIRED TO ATTEND RETRAINING CLASSES. IF IT IS OBVIOUS THE HE NEEDS FURTHER TRAINING OF HIS PROFICIENCY CANNOT BE BROUGHT UP TO AN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL, HE IS RESTRICTED TO A JOB WHERE HE CAN PERFORM ACCEPTABLY, SUCH AS ON A YARD ASSIGNMENT, A HOSTLER'S ASSIGNMENT OR A HOSTLERS HELPER'S ASSIGNMENT.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 1/11/1985
Response: The Safety Board’s position on this issue remains firm. The Board was aware of the fact that the Apprentice Engineers Training School concentrates on “basics.” This recommendation was addressed to engineers who fail to demonstrate proficiency in train handhng during Train Dynamics Analyser (TDA) classes and clearly are in need of further training in the areas in which they have been found deficient. Allowing an engineer to return to service before he has been retrained in areas in which he has been found deficient disregards the safety of fellow employees and the public and the possibility a catastrophic accident could result, especially if hazardous materials are on the train. We are pleased that you agree that engineers having known deficiencies should be required to achieve an acceptable level of demonstrated proficiency before being returned to duty. However, we do not believe this should be a “general rule,” but rather, a firm requirement, and that any barrier to such a requirement must be removed as expeditiously as possible to protect the public from incompetent train operators. Safety Recommendation R-83-51 has been placed in an “Open--Unacceptable Action” status pending your response to our comments.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 7/24/1984
Response: SBD LETTER: THERE APPEARS TO BE A MISUNDERSTANDING AS TO THE FUNCTION AND PURPOSE OF SBD'S APPRENTICE ENGINEERS TRAINING SCHOOL. YOU SUGGEST THAT ALL ENGINEERS WHO HAVE DEMONSTRATED POOR TRAIN HANDLING PROCEDURES SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO ATTEND THIS SCHOOL. TO ADOPT YOUR RECOMMENDA TION WOULD BE A SUBSTANTIAL WASTE OF SBD RESOURCES AND THE ENGINEER'S TIME. THIS SCHOOL IS A SIXTEEN-WEEK PROGRAM WHICH, IN LARGE PART, COVERS ELEMENTARY SKILLS. IT IS NOT DESIGNED FOR THE KIND OF SPECIALIZED TRAINING AND UPDATING AS IS THE PRESENT PROGRAM. AN ANALOGOUS SITUATION WOULD BE TO SEND A DOCTOR WHO MADE A WRONG DIAGNOSIS BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL. ADDITIONALLY, WE BELIEVE THE BLE WOULD JUSTIFIABLY TAKE STRONG EXCEPTION TO ANY SUCH REQUIREMENT. WE BELIEVE USE OF THE FOUR TDA UNITS (WHICH ARE ROTATED AT LEAST ONCE ANNUALLY TO ALL DIVISIONS ON SBD) AND THE REVIEW OF EACH ENGINEER'S PERFORMANCE BY THE ROAD FOREMAN OF ENGINES WILL BETTER FOCUS ON PARTICULAR PROBLEM AREAS. WE AGREE THAT AS A GENERAL RULE ENGINEERS HAVING KNOWN DEFICIENCIES SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO DEMONSTRATE THEIR PROFICIENCY IN THE PROBLEM AREA BEFORE BEING ALLOWED TO RETURN TO SERVICE. HOWEVER, SUCH A RULE MUST BE APPLIED IN THE CONTEXT OF NEGOTIATED WORK RULES. OF NECESSITY, WE MUST PRESERVE EXISTING POLICIES WHICH ENCOURAGE VOLUNTARY COOPERATION BETWEEN MANAGEMENT AND ONE OF OUR MOST VALUED RESOURCES, OUR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS.

From: NTSB
To: CSX Transportation, Inc.
Date: 4/30/1984
Response: SCL’s present practice of training and evaluating engineers who have demonstrated poor train handling procedures is not in line with the intent of this recommendation. The investigation of this accident revealed that the engineer had not received sufficient instruction in the TDA class to understand proper train handling. The investigation also revealed that engineers promoted prior to the establishment of the engineer’s training school in 1973 are given retraining only on a voluntary basis. All engineers who have demonstrated poor train handling procedures should be required to attend the training school. Further, any engineer who has demonstrated poor train handling procedures should be required to demonstrate his proficiency in handling a train before being allowed to return to service. The Board urges SCL to reconsider the intent of Safety Recommendation R-83-51. Pending further response, we will hold Safety Recommendation R-83-51 in a “Open-Unacceptable Action” status.

From: CSX Transportation, Inc.
To: NTSB
Date: 7/22/1983
Response: SEABOARD SYSTEM RAILROAD LETTER: THIS RECOMMENDATION PERTAINS TO MANDATORY CLASSES, AND DIFFERS ONLY SLIGHTLY FROM OUR PRESENT PRACTICE. WHILE WE DO NOT HAVE AN "ENGINEERS' TRAINING SCHOOL" OTHER THAN THE APPRENTICE ENGINEERS' PROGRAM, IT IS OUR POLICY TO GIVE SUFFICIENT INSTRUCTION WITH THE TDA SO THAT OUR ENGINEERS UNDERSTAND PROPER TRAIN HANDLING PROCEDURES. THIS INSTRUCTION IS FOLLOWED UP BY OUR ROAD FOREMAN OF ENGINES OBSERVING ACTUAL TRAIN OPERATIONS BY THE ENGINEERS AND THEIR GRADING OF THE ENGINEERS' PERFORMANCE. SHOULD EVALUATIONS INDICATE ADDITIONAL TRAINING OF AN INDIVIDUAL IS DESIRABLE, SUCH TRAINING IS REQUIRED.