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ON NOVEMBER 11, 1993, ABOUT 12:24 A.M. PACIFIC STANDARD TIME, A BURLINGTON NORTHERN (BN) FREIGHT TRAIN COLLIDED HEAD ON WITH A UNION PACIFIC (UP) FREIGHT TRAIN AT BN MILEPOST 102.8 SOUTH OF THE LONGVIEW JUNCTION SOUTH INTERLOCKING NEAR KELSO, WASHINGTON. AS A RESULT OF THE ACCIDENT ALL FIVE CREWMEMBERS FROM BOTH TRAINS WERE KILLED.
THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ASSOCIATION" IN CONJUCTION WITH THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS, IDENTIFY AND EVALUATE ALL OF THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF POSITIVE TRAIN SEPARATION AND INCLUDE THEM IN ANY COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS CONDUCTED ON POSITIVE TRAIN SEPARATION CONTROL SYSTEMS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
KELSO, WA, United States
Head-On Collision and Derailment of Burlington Northern Freight Train with Union Pacific Freight Train
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FRA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Positive Train Control
Safety Recommendation History
The FRA has provided to the Safety Board the specific benefits that it included in the report provided to Congress. These benefits included reduced fatalities and injuries, reduced equipment damage, reduced track and right-of-way damage, reduced damage to off-railroad right-of-way, reduced cost of hazardous materials cleanup, reduced number of evacuations, reduced loss of lading, reduced cost of wreck clearing, and reduced time delays. The report provided to Congress provided four levels of PTC and an evaluation of the associated costs and benefits of positive train separation control systems. Based on this information, Safety Recommendation R-94-14 is classified “Closed—Acceptable Action.”
Letter Mail Controlled 10/23/2000 4:40:38 PM MC# 2001568 FRA representatives briefed the RSAC PTC working group members on the conclusions the agency reached in its 1994 Report to Congress, and what had transpired to date. FRA had determined at the time of the Report to undertake certain actions to invest in the development of PTC, including to "initiate development of a risk analysis model to guide determination of priorities (among major freight rail corridors) for application of PTC technology." In 1995, FRA requested the U.S. Department of Transportation's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) to determine the feasibility of developing a corridor risk assessment tool for railroad operations based on a geographical information system (GIS) platform. FRA was interested in using analysis tool to determine if the deployment of PTC could have a beneficial safety impact on specific freight and/or passenger rail corridors. In 1996, the Volpe Center began to build the GIS database, and related analysis effort. An analytical model that described risk of PTC preventable accidents based upon geographical characteristics was developed. The preliminary results and conclusions were presented to the FRA and the RSAC. This analysis effort is referred to as the Corridor Risk Assessment Model (CRAM). The CRAM analytical model could provide information only on accident avoidance; however, it was one of the tools used by the PTC task force in developing its draft report. To address costs and benefits of PTC systems, an Economics team was assembled, consisting of one member of rail management, rail labor, and FRA. This team endeavored to place a cost on safety benefits, i.e., fatalities, injuries, equipment damage, track and right?of?way damage, damage off the right?of?way, hazardous materials' cleanup, evacuations, loss of lading, wreck clearing and delays. The team also endeavored to develop system unit costs for on?board processors, differential global positioning system receivers, wayside interface units, software development costs, etc. The PTC working group also considered "other than safety benefits," which were identified as improved equipment utilization, and fuel savings. The working group's draft report was completed in August 1999 and on September 8, 1999, the RSAC unanimously adopted this report entitled, "Report of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee to the Federal Railroad Administrator?Implementation of Positive Train Control Systems." Copies of this report were sent to the Congress on May 17, 2000. The "progress report" is intended to supplement the report entitled "Railroad Communication and Train Control," provided to Congress on July 8, 1994. Beginning opage 71 and continuing through page 89 of the Report, is the discussion concerning "Cost and Benefits of PTC Systems." Additionally, Appendix D of the Report, contains "Benefits and Costs of Applying PTC (Tables)." Based on the cooperative efforts of all concerned, including that of the AAR, we respectfully request that the Board consider classifying Safety Recommendation R?94?14 as a "Closed--Acceptable Action."
THE BOARD IS PLEASED TO LEARN THAT THE FRA INTENDS TO CREDIT SUPPORTABLE "BUSINESS" BENEFITS IN ANY REGULATORY MANDATES OF PTS. ALTHOUGH THE BOARD IS ENCOURAGED BY THIS STATEMENT, WE ARE DISAPPOINTED WITH THE FRA'S RELUCTANCE TO PUBLICLY EXPLORE ANY NONSAFETY BUSINESS CONSIDERATIONS ON A BROAD SCALE. YOUR 1994 RAILROAD COMMUNICATIONS & TRAIN CONTROL REPORT TO CONGRESS STATED THAT, "IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT SUCH EFFORT (BN/UP DEMONSTRATION PROJECT) BE COORDINATED AT A WIDER INDUSTRY LEVEL IN ORDER TO ENSURE MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY TO PROMOTE ACCEPTANCE WITHIN THE INDUSTRY. BECAUSE CONSIDERATION OF NONSAFETY BENEFITS WOULD LOGICALLY BE AN INTEGRAL COMPONENT OF ANY REGULATORY COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS BY THE FRA WHEN HIGH-SPEED CORRIDORS ARE APPROVED, THE FINANCIAL GRANT TO THE WSDOT CAN BE USED TO IDENTIFY THE POSITIVE BENEFITS OF PTS. ONCE THE MODEL HAS BEEN DEVELOPED, THE BOARD EXPECTS THE FRA & AAR TO EVALUATE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS. PLEASE KEEP US INFORMED ON DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS OF THE MODE. THE BOARD HAS CLASSIFIED R-94-14 "OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."
JOLENE MOLITORIS - ADMINISTRATOR STATED THAT FRA SHOULD NOT BECOME THE ARBITER OF PTC-RELATED BUSINESS BENEFITS ACROSS NATIONAL SYSTEMS. AS EXPLAINED IN THE REPORT TO CONGRESS (PP- 61-63), THE BUSINESS BENEFITS OF THIS TYPE OF TECHNOLOGY MAY BE REALIZED BY ALERNATIVE MEANS & ARE LIKELY TO VARY FROM RAILROAD TO RAILROAD. FINALLY, ANALYSIS OF THE VALUE OF ANY INVESTMENT MUST BE UNDERTAKEN WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF ANY INVESTMENT MUST BE UNDERTAKEN WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF ANY INVESTMENT MUST BE UNDERTAKEN WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE PREVAILING BUSINESS STRATEGY. TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT COMPRISE A BUSINESS STRATEGY IS ACCOMPLISHED. FRA IS NOT PRIVY TO THE LONG-TERM BUSINESS STRATEGIES OF THE MAJOR RAILROADS, WHICH ARE PROPRIETARY (& SUBJECT TO MODIFICATION WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE). BUSINESS STRATEGIES TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION NOT ONLY EXISTING MARKETS ( WHICH MAY WARRANT DEVELOPMENT OR ABANDONMENT, DEPENDING UPON THEIR RELATIVE PROFITABILITY) BUT ALSO POTENTIAL MARKETS. IN SUMMARY, ANY ATTEMPT BY FRA TO EVALUATE THE "BUSINESS CASE" FOR PTC TECHNOLOGY WOULD INEVITABLY BE CONFOUNDED BY THESE FACTORS: RAILROADS DIFFER SUBSTANTIALLY IN TERMS OF THEIR PHYSICAL ASSETS & ACCESS TO MARKETS. DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGY IS PRESENTING A NUMBER OF ALTERNATIVES FOR TECHNOLOGY SUBSTITUTION. ANY ATTEMPT TO ASSUME A STATIC "REASONABLE" BUSINESS STRATEGY BASE ONE EXISTING PENETRATION OF EXISTING MARKETS WOULD LIKELY OVER- & UNDER-STATE THE VALUE OF INVESTMENT IN PTC. ANY ATTEMPT TO ANALYZE, PRO FORMA, THE BUSINESS BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH ANY STIPULATED LEVEL OF INVESTMENT IN PTC COULD EASILY LEAD TO OVER- & UNDER-ESTIMATION OF THE OPPORTUNITY COST ASSOCIATED WITH DIVERSION OF THE CAPTIAL FROM OTHER REVENUE-PRODUCING OR SAFETY-ENHANCING INVESTMENTS.
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