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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-83-107
Details
Synopsis: ON APRIL 3, 1983, AMTRAK PASSENGER TRAIN NO. 820 (THE CRESCENT), EN ROUTE FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., WITH 331 PASSENGERS AND 18 CREWMEMBERS ABOARD, DERAILED WHEN IT STRUCK A LANDSLIDE NEAR ROCKFISH, VIRGINIA, ON SOUTHERN RAILWAY SYSTEM (SR) TRACK ABOUT 23 MILES SOUTH OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA. HEAVY RAINS IN THE AREA PRECEDED THE LANDSLIDE. THE TRACK HAD BEEN INSPECTED 6 HOURS BEFORE THE ACCIDENT. THE TRAIN WAS MOVING ABOUT 48 MPH AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT. THERE WAS NO TRAIN ORDER IN EFFECT FOR REDUCED SPEED IN THE AREA OF THE DERAILMENT. TWENTY-FOUR PERSONS WERE INJURED, AND DAMAGE WAS ESTIMATED TO BE $232,000.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: REVIEW INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION REGARDING HIGHWAY RIGHT-OF-WAY CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE, AND DISSEMINATE TO RAILROADS INFORMATION PERTINENT TO RAILROAD RIGHT-OF-WAY STABILIZATION PROGRAMS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Rockfish, VA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA83AR005
Accident Reports: Derailment of Amtrak Train No. 820 (The Crescent) of Southern Railway System Track
Report #: RAR-83-10
Accident Date: 4/3/1983
Issue Date: 1/4/1984
Date Closed: 3/13/1985
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 3/13/1985
Response: The Board notes that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has met with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regarding highway right-of-way construction and maintenance information that could be used by railroads. Based on the FRA's review of available railroad material and its determination that the FHWA does not have additional information that would advance the state-of-the-art of soil stabilization on the railroads, Safety Recommendation R-83-107 has been placed in a "Closed-Acceptable Action" status.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/26/1984
Response: FRA LTR: THE FRA HAS MET WITH THE FHWA REGARDING HIGHWAY RIGHT-OF-WAY CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE INFORMATION THAT COULD BE USED BY THE RAILROADS. IN ADDITION, WE HAVE REVIEWED THE INFORMATION THAT IS BEING USED BY THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY. THE MAJOR WORK BY A FEDERAL AGENCY ON STABILIZA TION IS THE TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD'S SPECIAL REPORT NUMBER 176, ENTITLED "LANDSLIDE ANALYSIS AND CONTROL." THIS DOCUMENT, WHICH MANY CONSIDER TO BE THE DEFINITIVE WORK ON THE SUBJECT, HAS BEEN WIDELY DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY. OUR REVIEW OF AVAILABLE RAILROAD MATERIAL FOUND THAT THE AMERICAN RAILWAY ENGINEERING ASSOCIATION'S "MANUAL FOR RAILWAY ENGINEERING" CONTAINS EXTENSIVE AND THOROUGH COVERAGE OF THE SOIL STABILIZATION MATTER. FRA CONCLUDED THAT ALL NECESSARY INFORMATION IS READILY AVAILABLE FOR RAILROADS TO DESIGN, CONSTRUCT, AND MAINTAIN RAILROAD EARTH STRUCTURES. THE FHWA DID NOT HAVE ANYTHING THAT WOULD ADVANCE THE STATE-OF-THE-ART OF SOIL STABILIZATION ON THE RAILROADS OR THAT NEEDS TO BE SENT TO THE INDUSTRY.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 6/12/1984
Response: The Safety Board acknowledges that there are differences between the construction and maintenance of railroad and highway rights-of-way; however, some Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommended practices, such as the use of vegetation to stabilize slopes, could be applicable to the railroad rights-of-way. The Board is pleased that the FRA will meet with the FHWA to discuss the applicability of the latter's research to railroad rights-of-way and would appreciate being informed of the results of that meeting. Pending further response, we will hold Safety Recommendation R-83-107 in an "Open-Acceptable Action" status.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/5/1984
Response: FRA LETTER: THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY HAS BEEN DEALING WITH RIGHT-OF-WAY STABILIZATION FOR MANY YEARS. EXCELLENT MATERIAL IS INCLUDED IN THE AMERICAN RAILWAY ENGINEERING ASSOCIATION MANUAL AND IN A MULTITUDE OF TEXTS WHICH HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ON SOIL MECHANICS AND FOUNDATIONS. THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (FHWA) INFORMATION ON STABILIZATION IS DISSEMINATED TO THE PUBLIC, INCLUDING THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY, THROUGH THE NATIONAL TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICE. IN ADDITION, MY STAFF POINTS OUT THAT THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF RAILROAD AND HIGHWAY RIGHTS-OF-WAY. FOR INSTANCE, RAILROAD RIGHTS-OF-WAY ARE SUBJECTED TO MUCH HEAVIER LOADINGS, MAY BE LOCATED IN NARROW CUTS AND WERE NOT BUILT WITH AESTHETICS IN MIND. GENERALLY, THE NEWER HIGHWAYS ARE BUILT ON WIDE RIGHTS-OF-WAY, HANDLE LIGHTER TRAFFIC AND ARE DESIGNED TO PROVIDE A PLEASING APPEARANCE. OUR PRELIMINARY REVIEW OF THIS RECOMMENDATION INDICATES THAT THERE ARE CONSIDERABLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE RIGHTS-OF-WAY OF THE TWO MODES AND THAT A LOT OF INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE TO THE RAILROADS ON THE SUBJECT OF STABILIZATION. MOREOVER, OUR REVIEW CONCLUDED THAT THERE ARE VERY FEW ACCIDENTS WHICH OCCUR AS THE RESULT OF LANDSLIDES AND, AS THE NTSB POINTED OUT IN ITS LETTER, THERE ARE MANY OTHER ACTIONS WHICH MAY BE TAKEN TO AVOID ACCIDENT THREATENING CONDITIONS, SUCH AS THE USE SLIDE DETECTION FENCES, INSTRUMENTATION OR FREQUENT INSPECTIONS. IN SUMMARY, THE FRA IS CURRENTLY CAPTURING ALL AVAILABLE INFORMATION RELATED TO LANDSLIDES IN ITS REORTING SYSTEM. THEREFORE, THE INTENT OF THE REPORTING RECOMMENDATION HAS BEEN FULFILLED. WHILE IT IS QUESTIONABLE THAT RELEVANT NEW INFORMATION WILL BE FOUND, FRA WILL MEET WITH FHWA TO DISCUSS THE APPLICABILITY OF HIGHWAY RIGHT-OF-WAY CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE PRACTICES. WE WILL DISSEMINATE TO THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY ANY MEANINGFUL INFORMATION GLEANED FROM THE FHWA.