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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-94-017
Details
Synopsis: 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.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE BURLINGTON NORTHERN RAILROAD: IN CONJUCTION WITH THE UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD, IDENTIFY AND EVALUATE ALL POTENTAIL SAFETY AND BUSINESS BENEFITS OF THE POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL SYSTEM CURRENTLY PROPOSED FOR THE NORTHWEST REGION OF THE UNITED STATES. CONSIDER THE VALUE OF THESE BENEFITS IN YOUR OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE SYSTEM.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: KELSO, WA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA94MR001
Accident Reports: Head-On Collision and Derailment of Burlington Northern Freight Train with Union Pacific Freight Train
Report #: RAR-94-02
Accident Date: 11/11/1993
Issue Date: 11/23/1994
Date Closed: 2/12/2001
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: BNSF Railway Company (formerly Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company) (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Positive Train Control

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: BNSF Railway Company (formerly Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company)
Date: 2/12/2001
Response: Mr. Grundmann indicates that BNSF and UP spent $17 million each on a joint project that looked into the positive train control systems. The information the two railroads gathered was provided to an industry advisory committee that produced an in-depth report for the Federal Railroad Administration. This report, issued September 8, 1999, provides an evaluation of potential safety and business benefits for the entire railroad industry. Based on this information, Safety Recommendation R-94-17 is classified "Closed--Acceptable Action."

From: BNSF Railway Company (formerly Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company)
To: NTSB
Date: 8/29/2000
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 09/06/2000 4:07:39 PM MC# 2001233: Letter mistakenly references R-94-017 instead of R-96-003.

From: BNSF Railway Company (formerly Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company)
To: NTSB
Date: 8/23/2000
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 08/23/2000 3:35:15 PM MC# 2001136 While the recommendation asked for the potential safety and business benefits of our joint project with the Union Pacific, this information has been incorporated into a larger industry report. Attached find the "Report of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee to the Federal Railroad Administrator, Implementation of Positive Train Control Systems" issued September 8, 1999. While BNSF and the UP each spent $17,000,000 on our joint project, the report reflects the work done by the entire industry in North America and includes an evaluation of potential safety and business benefits for the entire railroad industry.

From: BNSF Railway Company (formerly Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company)
To: NTSB
Date: 2/16/1996
Response:

From: NTSB
To: BNSF Railway Company (formerly Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company)
Date: 2/24/1995
Response: THE BOARD HAS STUDIED THE EXCERPTS FROM THE DRAPER LABORATORY'S RECENT ASSESSMENT OF POSITIVE TRAIN SEPARATION (PTS). MR. SCHIESTL POINTS OUT THAT THE DRAPER PROJECTION OF SAFETY BENEFITS ADDRESSES THE COST OF PROPERTY DAMAGE BUT FAILS TO CONSIDER THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH LITIGATION, LADING LOSS, WRECK CLEARING, ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP, & THE IMPACT ON OPERATIONS. THE BOARD HAS FOUND EXCLUSION OF SUCH SUBSTANTIAL COSTS TO BE A SIGNIFICANT SHORTCOMING OF PAST STUDIES. THE BOARD IS THEREFORE PLEASE BY MR. SCHIESTL'S STATEMENT THAT A MORE COMPREHENSIVE ESTIMATE WOULD NEED TO INCLUDE THEM. IN FACT, THE BOARD BELIEVES IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THESE COSTS BE CONSIDERED IN ANY PROJECTION OF SAFETY BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH PTS. THE BOARD IS ALSO INTERESTED IN THE PTS PILOT PROGRAM BEING IMPLEMENTED IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST BY BURLINGTON NORTHERN & UNION PACIFIC. THE BOARD HOPES THAT THIS EXPERIMENT WILL FIND A FAVORABLE COST-BENEFIT RATIO FOR PTS & THEREFORE MAKE THE CASE COMPELLING. PLEASE KEEP THE BOARD APPRISED OF THE PROGRAM'S PROGRESS. THE BOARD UNDERSTANDS THAT THE CURRENT PROJECT IS A PILOT PROJECT AND THE PILOT PROGRAM ITSELF MAY NOT HAVE A MEASURABLE IMPACT ON SAFETY OR BUSINESS IN BURLINGTON NORTHERN'S DAY-TO-DAY RAILROAD OPERATIONS. HOWEVER, THE BURLINGTON NORTHERN/UNION PACIFIC SYSTEM WILL BE THE ONLY POSITIVE TRAIN SEPARATION SYSTEM OPERATIONAL ON A MAJOR RAILROAD SINCE BURLINGTON NORTHERN DISCONTINUED THE ARES EXPERIMENT. THE BOARD BELIEVES THAT THE PILOT SYSTEM WILL PROVIDE INSIGHT INTO THE AREAS & MAGNITUDE OF BUSINESS BENEFITS THAT MAY BE INHERENT TO PTS SYSTEMS. BY VIRTUE OF THE INSTALLATION OF THE PTS EQUIPMENT IN A REALISTIC OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT, THE BOARD FEELS THAT THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY HAS A BETTER OPPORTUNITY THAN EVER BEFORE TO CAPTURE SOME OF THE DATA ON BUSINESS BENEFITS. UNTIL BETTER COST-BENEFIT DATA ARE AVAILABLE, THE BOARD HAS CLASSIFIED R-94-17 "OPEN-ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: BNSF Railway Company (formerly Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company)
To: NTSB
Date: 12/14/1994
Response: ANDREW SCHIESTL - DIRECTOR OF NETWORK SYSTEMS RESPONDED ON 12/14/94, THAT IN ASSESSING THE BENEFITS OF PTS, IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST STUDY WILL BE A PILOT PROGRAM THAT WILL INVOLVE TESTS & DEMONSTRATIONS DESIGNED TO PROVE PTS CONCEPTS & TECHNOLOGY & LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR A PRODUCTION SYSTEM. IT IS NOT EXPECTED THAT THE PROGRAM WILL HAVE A MEASURABLE IMPACT ON SAFETY OR BUSINESS IN BN'S OPERATION. ACTUAL BENEFITS WILL ONLY BE FROM THE PRODUCTION SYSTEM THAT INCORPORATES WHAT IS LEARNED & IMPLEMENTED FROM THE PILOT PROJECT. SECOND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST SYSTEM IS AN OVERLAID SYSTEM. PTS IS DESIGNED AS SAFETY NET WORKING IN CONJUCTION WITH EXISTING TRAIN CONTROL SYSTEM TO PROTECT AGAINST THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUMAN ERROR. DRAPER LABORATORIES, UNDER CONTRACT WITH BN, RECENTLY COMPLETED A QUANTITATIVE SAFETY ANALYSIS OF THE PTS SYSTEM BEING DEVELOP. THE LETTER CONCLUDED BY STATING THAT "IT IS BN'S POSITION THAT, JUDGED ON ECONOMIC MERITS, THE CASE FOR PTS IS NOT COMPELLING. BN'S DECISION TO PROCEED WITH PTS REFLECTS A COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AS AN ESSENTIAL ASPECT OF ITS CORPORATE MISSION."