Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-97-035
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, & WASHINGTON, D.C.; IT CONSISTED OF A LOCOMOTIVE & THREE COMMUTER CARS. THE AMTRAK TRAIN, OPERATING IN REVENUE SERVICE BETWEEN WASHINGTON D.C., & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, CONSISTED OF 2 LOCOMOTIVES & 15 CARS.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE MARYLAND MASS TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: CONDUCT, IN COOPERATION WITH CSX TRANSPORTATION INC., THE BALTIMORE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, THE METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS OF GOVERNMENTS, THE JEFFERSON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, & THE BERKELY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, PERIODIC DISASTER DRILLS TO ASSESS THEIR EMERGENCY MANAGMENT PLANS, TO REINFORCE & EVALUATE THEIR EMERGENCY TRAINING, & TO TEST THE COMMUNICATION WITH THE ORGANIZATIONS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Silver Spring, MD, United States
Is Reiterated: No
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: 5/25/2001
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: State of Maryland, Transit Administration (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Communication, Firefighting, Training and Education

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: State of Maryland, Transit Administration
Date: 5/25/2001
Response: The Safety Board notes that the MTA conducted disaster drills simulating a passenger train derailment and fire in 1998 with Montgomery County and in 1999 with Howard County. The Board also notes that in 2000, a drill was conducted with the Washington Council of Governments, simulating a combined passenger train and hazardous material spill from a freight train, and post-accident debriefings were conducted by the MTA in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 to assess emergency personnel, railroad, and MTA responses to actual incidents. The Board appreciates the actions taken by the MTA in response to this recommendation. We expect that future training will be conducted with the Baltimore City and County Emergency Management Agencies and the Jefferson and Berkeley County Commissioners. Based on your response, particularly the commitment by the MTA to hold disaster drills on an annual basis, alternating locations to the three operating routes, Safety Recommendation R-97-35 is classified "Closed-Acceptable Action."

From: State of Maryland, Transit Administration
To: NTSB
Date: 11/29/2000
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 12/05/2000 6:34:51 PM MC# 2001752 R-97-35 recommended that MTA conduct, in cooperation with the CSX Transportation Inc, the Baltimore County Emergency Management Agency, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Jefferson County Commissioners, periodic disaster drills to assess their emergency management plans, to reinforce and evaluate their emergency training, and to test the communication with the organizations. In 1998, MT A conducted a large-scale drill with Montgomery County, simulating a passenger train derailment and fire. In 1999, MTA conducted a similar drill with Howard County. In 2000, a drill was conducted with the Washington Council of Governments, simulating a combined passenger train and hazardous material spill from a freight train. With the cooperation of local responders, MARC will conduct a full-scale drill annually, alternating locations to each of our three operating routes. In addition postaccident debriefings were conducted in 1996 (grade crossing collision in Howard County), 1998 (minor onboard fire in Prince George's County) 1999 (grade crossing collision in Howard County), and 2000 (freight train sideswipe in Montgomery County). These postaccident debriefings assessed emergency responder, railroad and MTA responses to actual incidents. Since 1997, MARC has participated in the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) System Safety Program and triennial audits. The first audit was conducted in 1997-98, in conjunction with FRA, and the second audit is scheduled for 2001. Many other safety initiatives have been implemented, including the development and implementation of a railroad safety awareness program for school students, onboard safety announcements, regular safety articles in our weekly newsletter, and customer safety awareness events at various stations. In reviewing the Board's final report on the above referenced accident, as well as various documents developed in support of the NTSB investigation, the MT A was concerned with the discrepancy between the results of the NTSB-commissioned investigation of the flammability and smoke characteristics of various materials installed in the MARC vehicles, compared to the test results provided by the original equipment manufacturer (GEM). Therefore, the MTA contracted consultant services to provide an independent comparative evaluation of the smoke and flame data provided by Professor James Quintiere as commissioned by the NTSB, and the data provided by the original equipment manufacturer. The MTA's consultant did not replicate the tests or attempt to" verify the validity of the tests, but rather, conducted a "side-by-side" comparison of test data and criteria. The consultant was also requested to review Professor Quintiere' s qualifications, and to survey any available research into material property degradation and its effects on smoke and flammability properties. As a result of this evaluation, the following determinations were made, which we wish to bring to the Board's attention: Pertaining to the fabric seat coverings, the smoke test criteria used by Dr. Quintiere may not be applicable. Dr. Quintiere used the "Proposed Guidelines for Flammability and Smoke Emission Specification", dated June 1979, which did not differentiate between coated and uncoated fabrics. The OEM's test criteria would have been based on the same guidelines, but as revised in 1982 (the most current standards in effect at the time of the testing), which did differentiate between coated and uncoated fabrics. As the MARC fabric in question was classified as coated, Dr. Quintiere's results were within the acceptable range using the 1982 smoke test criteria for coated fabrics: .The sample size of the tests was small, and may not be representative of the entire lot of materials used by the manufacturer . .The ASTM tests used by the OEM and Dr. Quintiere were intended to be used on materials immediately after manufacture, while the test samples used by Dr. Quintiere were not new at the time of testing, and had been installed on equipment which had been In revenue service. .Limited research has been done pertaining to the effects of material aging on smoke and flammability properties, and what research has been done is not directly applicable to the materials tested by Dr. Quintiere. Further, researchers speculate on, but have not researched the possible effects that various cleaning products and methods may have on smoke and flammability properties of the materials in question. Based on this evaluation, MT A requests that NTSB support more definitive research in this area by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Enclosed for your review, is a copy of the final report, dated January 26, 1998, on the smoke and flammability comparison conducted by Booz Allen & Hamilton for the MTA, as well as the Summary Progress Report dated November 17, 1997, which is referenced in the final report. I hope this information is useful to the Board in its efforts. If you would like any additional information pertaining to any of the programs and projects described above, please feel free to contact me, or Ms. Kathryn D. Waters, MARC Manager and Chief Operating Officer, at 410-859-7422.

From: State of Maryland, Transit Administration
To: NTSB
Date: 10/9/1997
Response: