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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-97-017
Details
Synopsis: About 5:38 p.m. on 2/16/96, eastbound Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) train 286 collided with westbound National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train 29, the Capitol Limited, at milepost 8.55 on CSX main track near Silver Spring, Maryland. The MARC train was operating in the push mode in revenue service between Brunswick , Maryland, and Washington, DC.; it consisted of a locomotive and three commuter cars. The Amtrak train, operating in revenue service between Washington DC., and Chicago, Illinois, consisted of 2 locomotives and 15 cars.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Require all passenger cars to contain reliable emergency lighting fixtures that are each fitted with a self-contained independent power source and incorporate the requirements into minimum passenger car safety standards.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Silver Spring, MD, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA96MR004
Accident Reports: Collision and Derailment of Maryland Rail Commuter MARC Train 286 and National Railroad Passenger Corporation AMTRAK Train 29
Report #: RAR-97-02
Accident Date: 2/16/1996
Issue Date: 8/28/1997
Date Closed: 1/15/2014
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 1/15/2014
Response: We have reviewed the November 29, 2013, notice published at Federal Register 78 (230), 71786 to 71816, “49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 238 and 239, Passenger Train Emergency Systems II; Final Rule.” Although we are disappointed with the very long delay, we are pleased that the FRA has finally completed the recommended action. The specific regulatory changes are these: • 49 CFR §238.112 Door Emergency Egress and Rescue Access Systems, 49 CFR §238.113 Emergency Window Exits, and 49 CFR §238.114 Rescue Access Windows, 49 CFR §238.123 Emergency Roof Access, 49 CFR §238.441 Emergency Roof Access, 49 CFR §238.439 Doors, 49 CFR §238.307 Periodic Mechanical Inspection of Passenger Cars and Unpowered Vehicles Used in Passenger Trains, and 49 CFR §239.105 Debriefing and Critique, satisfying the intent of Safety Recommendation R-97-15. • 49 CFR §238.115 Emergency Lighting, 49 CFR §238.127 Low-Location Emergency Exit Path Marking, 49 CFR §238.303 Exterior Calendar Day Mechanical Inspection of Passenger Equipment, 49 CFR §238.305 Interior Calendar Day Mechanical Inspection of Passenger Cars, 49 CFR §239.105 Debriefing and Critique, satisfying the intent of Safety Recommendation R 97 17. Because the final rules collectively satisfy Safety Recommendations R-97-15 and -17, the recommendations are classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 3/23/2012
Response: Notation 8393: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled, "Passenger Train Emergency Systems II," which was published in 77 Federal Register 154 on January 3, 2012. The NPRM aims to improve the safety of passenger trains through the development and enhancement of requirements for passenger car emergency systems. Specifically, in the NPRM, the FRA proposes new requirements for interior vestibule doors and low-location emergency exit path markings, along with new requirements for emergency lighting in all passenger cars. Also, the FRA proposes to enhance the requirements for survivability of emergency lighting systems in new passenger cars and for emergency egress and rescue access signage. Finally, the FRA seeks to clarify existing requirements for participation in debriefing and critique sessions following emergency situations and full-scale simulations. The NPRM addresses safety recommendations issued by the NTSB from its investigation of the Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) train collision with a National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train near Silver Spring, Maryland, on February 16, 1996.1 Eight passengers and three crewmembers died, while 26 others were injured in the accident. The NTSB investigation uncovered several safety problems; for example, some passengers could not egress the MARC train. The NTSB expressed concern regarding passengers' ability to exit through interior and exterior passageway doors. Additionally, two passengers on the MARC train reported that emergency lighting was not available following the accident, which made it more difficult to move in the darkness. The NTSB investigation revealed that the main car battery powering the emergency lighting had been damaged as a result of the derailment. The NTSB expressed concern regarding emergency lighting survivability because the location of the battery supplying power to the emergency lighting system below the car made it susceptible to damage from the rail, the car's trucks, and the ground surface in the event of a derailment. Among the recommendations that NTSB issued as a result of the Silver Spring accident investigation, the FRA was provided with an urgent recommendation to: Inspect all commuter rail equipment to determine whether it has: (1) easily accessible interior emergency quick-release mechanisms adjacent to exterior passageway doors; (2) removable windows or kick panel in interior and exterior passageway doors; and (3) prominently displayed retroreflective signage marking all interior and exterior emergency exits. If any commuter equipment lacks one or more of these features, take appropriate emergency measures to ensure corrective action until these measures are incorporated into minimum passenger car safety standards. Urgent (R-96-7) The Urgent Safety Recommendation R-96-7 was classified "Closed-Superseded" on August 28, 1997, by Safety Recommendations R-97-14 through -16 for long term action. Require all passenger cars to have easily accessible interior emergency quick-release mechanism adjacent to exterior passageway doors and take appropriate emergency measures to ensure corrective action until these measures are incorporated into minimum passenger car safety standards. (R-97-14) Safety Recommendation R-97-14 was classified as "Closed-Acceptable Action" on July 27, 2001, after the FRA published a Final Rule titled, "Passenger Equipment Safety Standards," at 64 Federal Register 25540-25705 on May 12, 1999 (codified at 49 Code of Federal Regulations(CFR) 238.235, "Doors"). The rule became effective December 31, 1999. Require all passenger cars to have either removable windows, kick panels, other suitable means for emergency exiting through the interior and exterior passageway doors where the door could impede passengers exiting in an emergency and take appropriate emergency measures to ensure corrective action until these measures are incorporated into minimum passenger car safety standards. (R-97-15) Safety Recommendation R-97-15 currently IS classified as "Open-Unacceptable Response." Issue interim standards for the use of luminescent or retroreflective material or both to mark all interior and exterior emergency exits in all passenger cars as soon as possible and incorporate the interim standards into minimum passenger car safety standards. (R-97-16) Safety Recommendation R-97-16 was classified "Closed-Acceptable Action" on February 3, 2000, after the FRA published a Final Rule titled, "Passenger Train Emergency Preparedness" at 63 Federal Register 24629-24683 on May 4, 1998 (codified at 49 CFR 239.l07(a)(l), "Emergency exits"). Require all passenger cars to contain reliable emergency lighting fixtures that are each fitted with a self-contained independent power source and incorporate the requirements into minimum passenger car safety standards. (R-97-17) Safety Recommendation R-97-17 currently is classified as "Open-Unacceptable Response." Provide promptly a prescribed inspection and maintenance test cycle to ensure the proper operation of all emergency exit windows as well as provide that the 180-day inspection and maintenance test cycle is prescribed in the final rule. (R-97-18) Safety Recommendation R-97-18 was classified "Closed-Acceptable Alternate Action" on July 27, 2001, after the FRA published a Final Rule at 64 Federal Register 25540-25705 (codified at 49 CFR 238.307(d)(4), "Periodic mechanical inspection of passenger cars and unpowered vehicles used in passenger trains"). Require that all exterior emergency door release mechanisms on passenger cars be functional before a passenger car is placed in revenue service, that the emergency door release mechanism be placed in a readily accessible position and marked for easy identification in emergencies and derailments, and that these requirements be incorporated into minimum passenger car safety standards. (R-97-19) Safety Recommendation R-97-19 was classified "Closed-Acceptable Action" on July 27, 2001, after the FRA published a Final Rule at 64 Federal Register 25540-25705 (codified at 49 CFR 238.111, "Pre-revenue service acceptance testing plan" and 238.235, "Doors"). Require that a comprehensive inspection of all commuter passenger cars be performed to independently verify that the interior materials in these cars meet the expected performance requirements for flammability & smoke emissions characteristics. (R-97-20) Safety Recommendation R-97-20 was classified "Closed-Acceptable Action" on July 27, 2001, after the FRA published a Final Rule at 64 Federal Register 25540-25705 (codified at 49 CFR 238.103, "Fire safety"). The Safety Board notes that there are no current regulations addressing a "suitable means for emergency exiting through the interior and exterior passageway doors where the door could impede passengers exiting in an emergency." The Safety Board notes that the NPRM's proposed new section 238.112, "Doors," contains explicit requirements for each vestibule door and any other interior door intended for passage through a passenger car in the event the door will not open in an emergency, or the car is on its side and the door is difficult to open. Therefore, the Safety Board considers the proposed requirements in the NPRM to be consistent with the intent of Safety Recommendation R-97-l5. The Safety Board notes that although current regulations2 address emergency lighting with a back-up power system for each passenger car, the regulations do not provide for emergency lighting fixtures that are each fitted with a self-contained independent power source. The Safety Board notes that proposed new section 238.115, "Emergency lighting," will contain explicit requirements that emergency lighting shall be provided in each passenger car in accordance with the minimum requirements specified in American Public Transportation Association Standard SS-E-013-99, Rev. 1, "Standard for Emergency Lighting System Design for Passenger Cars," October 2007, or an alternative standard providing at least an equivalent level of safety if approved by the FRA pursuant to section 238.21. Therefore, the Safety Board considers the proposed requirements in the NPRM to be consistent with the intent of Safety Recommendation R-97-l7. The NTSB is encouraged that the various actions indicated in the NPRM are under consideration. In addition, the NTSB notes that the FRA anticipates each passenger car to be equipped with a removable panel or removable window in the vestibule door and any other interior door intended for passage through a passenger car during an emergency within 4 years of the rulemaking. However, it is unfortunate that more than 17 years after the Silver Spring accident, no design changes have yet been required for passenger car doors or emergency lighting. The NTSB is encouraged that industry and the FRA are exploring options to address passenger car door kick panels and emergency lighting. Thus, the NTSB supports the intent of the NPRM. The NTSB remains concerned, however, about the significant length of time it is taking to make a modification available to operators. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this NPRM.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 12/1/2011
Response: CC# 201100449 was closed administratively; no response was written or mailed.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/12/2011
Response: -From Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation: NTSB Classification and Actions Taken by FRA: Open – Unacceptable Response. On May 12, 1999, FRA published the Passenger Equipment Safety Standards, which required emergency lighting for passenger cars ordered on or after September 8, 2000, or those placed into service for the first time on or after September 9, 2002. Subsequently, FRA worked with APTA to develop industry standards to improve emergency lighting systems in all passenger cars, including the survivability of the systems. See APTA SS-E-013-99, Rev. 1, Standard for Emergency Lighting System Design for Passenger Cars. On February 20, 2008, RSAC’s Passenger Safety Working Group recommended proposed rule language to the full RSAC body that would incorporate this new APTA standard by reference. While the APTA standard does provide for emergency lighting in existing passenger cars, thereby complementing FRA’s original regulations, the standard does not specify that the lighting in existing cars be powered by a self-contained source independent of the main car battery. The full RSAC accepted the working group’s recommendations, and FRA is preparing an NPRM for publication by spring 2011. The NTSB has reclassified this recommendation as “Open – Unacceptable Response,” pending efforts not only to implement emergency lighting in existing passenger cars but also to provide that those systems operate on a power source independent of the main car battery. Actions Needed to Be Taken by FRA: Issue regulations.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 11/22/2010
Response: The FRA’s May 12, 1999, final rule also addressed emergency lighting (Section 238.115) for passenger cars ordered on or after September 8, 2000, or those placed into service for the first time on or after September 9, 2002. Subsequently, the FRA worked with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) to develop industry standards to improve emergency lighting pathway markings, including survivability of the systems. On February 20, 2008, the FRA’s full RSAC accepted recommendations from the passenger safety working group to require that all passenger cars comply with minimum light levels by 2015 and that new cars contain an independent power source located no more than a half-car length away from the fixture it powers, to provide backup in the event the main car battery is not able to power the system. Again, the NPRM that the FRA had anticipated publishing by August 31, 2009, which was expected to address this issue, has not yet been published. The intent of Safety Recommendation R-97-17 was to require all passenger cars to contain reliable emergency lighting fixtures, each of which would be fitted with a self-contained independent power source. The draft NPRM requires that all passenger cars comply with minimum light levels by 2015, but only new cars contain an independent power source to provide backup in the event the main car battery is not able to power the system. Pending the implementation of a final rule requiring all passenger cars to contain reliable emergency lighting fixtures fitted with a self-contained independent power source, Safety Recommendation R-97-17 is classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 5/26/2009
Response:

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/20/2009
Response: MC# 2090325 - From Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator: The FRA’s Passenger Equipment Safety Standards for rail passenger service, published in the Federal Register on May 12, 1999, addressed emergency lighting for passenger cars ordered on or after September 8, 2000, or those placed into service for the first time on or after September 9, 2002. Subsequently, FRA worked with the APTA to develop industry standards to improve emergency lighting pathway markings, including survivability of the systems. On February 20, 2008, the Passenger Safety Working Group presented proposed rule language to the full RSAC containing important additional emergency system requirements. Included in this package is a requirement that all passenger cars comply with minimum light levels by 2015 and that new cars have an independent power source located no more than a half-car length away from the fixture it powers in the event the main car battery is not able to power the system. FRA will be publishing an NPRM by August 31, 2009. The FRA respectfully requests that NTSB continue to classify Safety Recommendation R-97-17 as “Open-Acceptable Response.”

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 7/21/2004
Response: On 7/21/2004 Board staff met with FRA staff to discuss this recommendation. The discussion was led by David Mao and Brenda Moscoso. The FRA is again looking at a systems approach to reliable emergency lighting. FRA is looking at a performance-based approach in lieu of a hardware approach. FRA is studying APTA's Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards (PRESS) with a view of incorporating them into Phase II of the rulemaking as a Federal standard. FRA will provide a copy of the pertinent APTA standards to the Safety Board. FRA requests that Safety Recommendation R-97-17 remain classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 7/16/2002
Response: The Safety Board notes that during Phase II of the Passenger Equipment Safety Standards rulemaking, the FRA will evaluate the issue of emergency lighting and independent power sources for the existing fleet of cars. The final rule that resulted from Phase I of the rulemaking addressed emergency lighting for passenger cars ordered on or after September 8, 2000, or those placed in service for the first time on or after September 9, 2002. The FRA indicates that as part of this activity, it will evaluate the American Public Transportation Association's Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards to determine what provisions within those standards could be incorporated into the FRA's final rule to fully address implementing emergency lighting in the existing passenger car fleet. Pending completion of this evaluation and the issuance of the final rule addressing this issue, Safety Recommendation R-97-17 remains classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE. The Safety Board commends the FRA for the final rules on Passenger Equipment Safety Standards and Passenger Train Emergency Preparedness. We agree that these final rules should substantially enhance passenger safety and the ability to evacuate a passenger car in an emergency. The Board looks forward to working with the FRA during the Phase II rulemaking.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/2/2002
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 04/17/2002 8:43:00 AM MC# 2020403 - Allan Rutter, Administrator: FRA did not adopt a requirement to apply the emergency lighting requirements to existing cars. FRA was aware that many cars were already equipped with emergency lighting systems and that a variety of strategies were available to address this need. Accordingly, FRA has sought a broader, systemic approach to implementing emergency lighting requirements in existing passenger cars, whether or not the cars are rebuilt (see 64 FR 25597). FRA envisions this approach to include features such as light-emitting emergency signage and low-location exit path marking. At the time the final rule was published, FRA looked to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards (PRESS) Task Force to create an APTA/ PRESS standard for implementing emergency lighting requirements in existing passenger cars. FRA believed that it would be more effective to achieve the goal of enhancing emergency lighting in the existing fleet by allowing APTA to initially create an industry standard and then evaluate that standard with a view to incorporating it into Phase II of the rulemaking as a Federal standard. The PRESS standard has since been finalized and approved by APTA, and designated as APTA- SS-E-013-99 Standard for Emergency Lighting. The standard requires railroads to upgrade emergency lighting on some existing equipment or take other actions to remedy the effects of low emergency lighting levels. The APTA/PRESS Emergency Signage standard (APTA-SS-PS-002-98) states that backup power must be provided by a source other than the rail car's normal electrical system. However, this does not mean self-contained power light fixtures. The APTA/ PRESS Emergency Signage standard requires the use of high performance photo luminescent (HPPL) material (strontium aluminate) if passive (non-electrically powered) signs are used. If these signs are installed in locations where they receive a minimum charge of 5 foot-candles on their surface for only an hour, they may in fact fulfill the function of self-contained lighting fixtures. In addition, APTAIPRESS has issued a Low-Location Exit Path Marking (LLEPM) standard (APTA SS-PS-004-99). In contrast to the Sign standard, where either passive or electrically powered marking may be used, the LLEPM standard does require that the LLEPM marking system be independent of the normal and emergency lighting system and become immediately visible when the car's normal and emergency electrical power ceases operation. With the exception of refurbished National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) cars and Acela trainsets, car door end exit signs are not electrically-powered. Due to cost and maintenance issues, FRA knows of no rail cars that now use electrically powered LLEPM marking. The marking is required by APTA to be installed on both new and re-manufactured cars placed in service after January 1, 2000, and on all existing cars by January 1, 2006. Also, for equipment that fails to meet minimum emergency lighting levels established in the Standard for Emergency lighting (APTA-SS-E-013-99), the APTA LLEPM standard requires the equipment be in compliance by July 1, 2002. Electrically powered signs are allowed by the APTA Sign standard that do not need to be powered by a back-up source other than the car battery. In many cases, in order to meet the requirements in Emergency Order No. 20, and 49 CFR Sections 223.9 and 239.107, railroads had already purchased emergency signs using zinc sulfide photo luminescent material, the light output of which is much less bright at the outset and degrades much faster than the HPPL. Although the APTA Sign standard grandfathers the use of existing non-HPPL signs and allows railroads to continue to use existing "stock" of the non-HPPL signs unless the cars do not meet the APTA/ PRESS emergency light levels for existing cars, new and re-manufactured cars must use HPPL signs. Again, where ambient light levels of the APTA standard are not satisfied, the enhanced signage must be provided. The APTA PRESS approach focuses safety improvements where they will do the most good and goes beyond currently mandated standards to address a recognized need. The resulting trade-offs have been evaluated as providing acceptable support for passenger situational awareness, given the constraints associated with existing equipment, and pending further consideration by FRA as additional information is gathered. In Phase II of FRA's Passenger Equipment Safety Standards rulemaking, FRA will evaluate APTA PRESS standards to determine what provisions within those standards can be incorporated into FRA's rule to fully address implementing emergency lighting in the existing passenger car fleet, and thus satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendation R-97-17. FRA has also considered the Safety Board's recommendation that reliable emergency lighting fixtures be fitted with a self-contained independent power source. In the Passenger Equipment Standards final rule, FRA did note that as a regulatory requirement the concept of a power source at each fixture is novel. Yet, FRA agreed with the Board's concern that placement of electrical conduits and battery packs below the floor of passenger coaches can result in damage that leads to the unavailability of emergency lights precisely at the time they are most needed. See 64 FR 25598. At the time of publication, however, FRA's investigation could not confirm whether "ballast" technology provides illumination of sufficient light level quality with reliable maintainability. With only this information available, FRA established a performance-based standard in lieu of a hardware-based standard for all Tier I and Tier II passenger car emergency lighting. By structuring the rule in this way, FRA allows the designer of the emergency lighting systems to minimize the wires, cables, and conduits between the power source and the light, and achieve the goal of a self-contained independent power source. FRA continues to foresee enhancing the rule's emergency lighting requirements, and in Phase II of the rulemaking will further evaluate the Board's recommendation to power emergency lighting from self-contained independent sources for more reliable emergency illumination. This includes consideration of using HPPL signs and other non-electric lighting features as consistent with the Safety Board's recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 7/27/2001
Response: Although the FRA's final rule addresses emergency lighting for passenger cars ordered on or after September 8, 2000, or placed in service for the first time on or after September 9, 2002, the final rule does not address the emergency lighting problems identified in the Board's accident report for the existing passenger car fleet nor does it require an independent power supply. The electrical power for the emergency lighting in the passenger cars in the Silver Spring accident was generated from the locomotive, and the distribution conduit and wiring located under the derailed equipment was destroyed or damaged beyond the capability of providing power to the emergency lighting. Pending information on how the FRA will address emergency lighting fixtures, provide for a self-contained independent power source in passenger cars that were in service prior to September 9, 2002, and provide for a self-contained independent power supply in new equipment, Safety Recommendation R-97-17 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 3/12/2001
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 03/19/2001 10:42:56 AM MC# 2010231 - From S. Mark Lindsey, Acting Deputy Administrator: After FRA's initial response, and before the Board's September 30, 1999 reply, FRA published a Final Rule for 49 CFR Part 238, "Passenger Equipment Safety Standards," in the Federal Register dated May 12, 1999. The rule became effective July 12, 1999. Within Subpart B, "Safety Planning and General Requirements," of the Final Rule and appropriate to all Tier I and Tier II passenger equipment, is new section 238.115 Emergency lighting, as quoted below: Section 238.115 Emergency lighting: (a) This section applies to each passenger car ordered on or after September 8, 2000, or placed in service for the first time on or after September 9, 2002. This section applies to each level of a multi-level passenger car. (b) Emergency lighting shall be provided in each passenger car and shall include the following: (1) A minimum, average illumination level of 1 foot-candle measured at floor level adjacent to each exterior door and each interior door providing access to an exterior door (such as a door opening into a vestibule); (2) A minimum, average illumination level of 1 foot-candle measured 25 inches above floor level along the center of each aisle and passageway; (3) A minimum illumination level of 0.1 foot-candle measured 25 inches above floor level at any point along the center of each aisle and passageway; and (4) A back-up power system capable of: (i) Operating in all equipment orientations within 45 degrees of vertical; (ii) Operating after the initial shock of a collision or derailment resulting in the following individually applied accelerations: (A) Longitudinal: 8g; (B) Lateral: 4g; and © Vertical: 4g; and (iii) Operating all emergency lighting for a period of at least 90 minutes without a loss of more than 40% of the minimum illumination levels specified in this paragraph (b)." Based upon FRA's actions, it is believed that the full intent of the Board's recommendation has been met by the provisions noted above in the Final Rule. We therefore request the Board to consider classifying Safety Recommendation R-97-l 7 as "Closed-Acceptable Action."

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 8/31/1998
Response: From the accident report of the derailment of Amtrak train 4 southwest chief on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway near Kingman, Arizona on August 9, 1997 (adopted 8/31/1998): The Safety Board is, however, concerned that not enough is being done to provide for passenger safety when emergency power is lost. In the 1996 Silver Spring accident, a contributing factor to the severity of the accident and the loss of life was the lack of appropriate regulations to ensure adequate emergency egress features on railroad passenger cars. One of the safety recommendations issued following this investigation called for the FRA to: R-97-17 Require all passenger cars to contain reliable emergency lighting fixtures that are each fitted with a self-contained independent power source and incorporate the requirements into minimum passenger safety standards. On February 25, 1998, the FRA responded to this safety recommendation, stating that: FRA findings in recent accidents support the Safety Board’s implied concern that placement of electrical conduits and battery packs below the floor of passenger coaches can result in damage that leads to the unavailability of emergency lights precisely at the time they are most needed. However, from initial investigation it is not certain whether current ‘ballast’ technology provides illumination of sufficient light level quality with reliable maintainability. At a meeting in December 1997, the FRA delegated this issue to its Railroad Safety Advisory Committee for Passenger Equipment Safety Standards Working Group and stated that this group will aggressively pursue this option for more reliable emergency illumination. The status of Safety Recommendation R-97-17 is “Open— Response Received.” The Safety Board concludes that passenger car interiors must have interior emergency lighting because a sufficient quantity of light sticks may not always be available, and light sticks may not be suitable for a large-scale evacuation such as the one that occurred in this accident. In addition, while the light stick may serve adequately as a personal emergency light source during an evacuation, it is not a self-contained emergency lighting source. Therefore, the Safety Board believes that Amtrak should install, in all new passenger equipment purchased after January 1, 2000, and in existing passenger cars during their major overhaul/rebuild operations, fixtures that use a “self contained back-up energy reserve feature” to make the fixtures less vulnerable to the disruption of electrical power during derailments. In addition, the Safety Board reiterates Safety Recommendation R-97-17 to the FRA.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 2/25/1998
Response: