The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today issued two safety recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) related to five rear-end collisions in which crewmembers failed to operate their trains at the required restricted speed. Related recommendations were also issued to the Association of American Railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the United Transportation Union.
All five recommendations focus on the need for railroads to disseminate information related to these accidents to their employees and to emphasize the need for crewmembers to operate trains in accordance with restricted speed operating rules.
The five accidents include:
- Red Oak, Iowa, April 17, 2011, BNSF
- Low Moor, Virginia, May 21, 2011, CSX
- Mineral Springs, North Carolina, May 24, 2011, CSX
- DeWitt, New York, July 6, 2011, CSX
- DeKalb, Indiana, August 19, 2011, Norfolk Southern
The accidents in Red Oak and Mineral Springs resulted in crewmember fatalities and are still under investigation by the NTSB. Four of the five accidents occurred on railroad lines over which Amtrak passenger trains operate.
Because these accidents occurred on different railroads and under different circumstances, the NTSB is concerned that noncompliance with restricted speed requirements may be an issue affecting a broad segment of the U.S. railroad industry.
Signal systems provide for the safe separation between trains. However, there are times when trains are authorized to occupy the same sections of track. In these cases, safe train operations rely solely on crewmember compliance with the railroad's restricted speed requirements.
Typically, these requirements include "being prepared to stop within one-half the range of vision." Complete understanding of and strict compliance with restricted speed requirements are absolutely mandatory to prevent catastrophic train collisions.
The safety recommendation letters may be found here.
NTSB Press Contact: Bridget Serchak