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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 UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD: IN CONJUNCTION WITH BURLINGTON NORTHERN RAILROAD, IDENTIFY AND EVALUATE ALL POTENTIAL 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:
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:
Union Pacific (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Positive Train Control
Safety Recommendation History
Mr. Duffy indicates that BNSF and UP spent over $30 million 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. Mr. Duffy also indicates that UP remains a host railroad for a North American Joint Positive Train Control (NAJPTC) project on 123 miles of track in Illinois. Based on this information, Safety Recommendation R-94-18 is classified "Closed--Acceptable Action."
Letter Mail Controlled 08/29/2000 4:40:40 PM MC# 2001178 Union Pacific Railroad Company (UPRR) and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) tested and demonstrated a pilot Positive Train Separation system (PTS) beginning in 1994 and finishing in late 1997. UPRR and BNSF invested over $30 million on the pilot program and proved many of the technological features required to support deployment of a positive train separation system….. The cost of the PTS program represented a significant investment for UPRR and while we are pleased at the progress we jointly made with BNSF, it became clear to me that the rest of the industry needed to be involved for a long-term solution. As you know, in January 1998, DOT Secretary Rodney Slater and FRA Administrator Jolene Molitoris invited the Association of American Railroads (AAR) to participate in the North American Joint Positive Train Control (NAJPTC) project. This project is in cooperation with Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and will demonstrate a Positive Train Control (PTC) system that supports both high-speed passenger and freight railroad operating requirements. UP is the host railroad for the NAJPTC program on 123 miles of our Springfield and Joliet subdivisions, and PTC equipment will be installed on UP locomotives…..
THE RECOMMENDATION WAS CLASSIFIED "OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE" ON 3/14/95. THE SAFETY BOARD WOULD APPRECIATE LEARNING OF ANY ACTIONS THE UPRR HAS TAKEN OR INTENDS TO TAKE SINCE OUR LAST CORRESPONDENCE ADDRESSING R-94-18.
THE BOARD UNDERSTANDS THAT BECAUSE THE PROJECT IS AN OVERLAY OF A CURRENT SYSTEM IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO IDENTIFY THE BENEFITS. HOWEVER, PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS AT PROJECTING SAFETY BENEFITS ADDRESSED THE COST OF PROPERTY DAMAGE BUT FAILED TO CONSIDER THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH LITIGATION, LADING LOSS, WRECK CLEARING, ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP, & THE IMPACT ON OPERATIONS. THE BOARD HAS FOUND THE EXCLUSION OF SUCH SUBSTANTIAL COSTS TO BE A SIGNIFICANT SHORTCOMING OF PAST STUDIES. THE BOARD BELIEVES IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THESE COSTS BE CONSIDERED IN ANY PROJECTION OF SAETY BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH PTS. THE BOARD IS VERY INTERESTED IN THE PROJECT & HOPES THAT IT WILL YIELD A FAVORABLE COST-BENEFITS RATIO FOR PTS &, THEREFORE, MAKE A COMPELLING CASE FOR USING PTS. PLEASE KEEP THE BOARD APPRISED OF THE PROGRAM'S PROGRESS. THE BOARD UNDERSTANDS THAT THE PILOT PROJECT MAY NOT HAVE A MEASURABLE IMPACT ON SAFETY OR BUSINESS IN DAY-TO-DAY RAILROAD OPERATIONS. HOWEVER, THE PROJECT WILL BE THE ONLY PTS SYSTEM TO HAVE BEEN USED ON A MAJOR RAILROAD SINCE THE BN DISCONTINUED THE ADVANCED RAILROAD ELECTRONICS SYTEM EXPERIMENT. BY VIRTUE OF THE INSTALLATION OF THE PTS EQUIPMENT IN A REAL OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT, THE BOARD BELIEVES THAT THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY HAS A BETTER OPPORTUNITY THAN EVER BEFORE TO CAPTURE SOME OF THE DATA ON BUSINESS BENEFITS. UNTIL MORE INCLUSIVE COST-BENEFIT DATA ARE AVAILABLE, THE BOARD HAS CLASSIFIED R-94-18 "OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."
DICK DIVIDSON - PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER RESPONDED ON 1/11/95, 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 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 A SAFETY NET WORKING IN CONJUCTION WITH EXISTING TRAIN CONTROL SYSTEM TO PROTECT AGAINST THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUMAN ERROR.
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