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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-13-011
Details
Synopsis: On September 30, 2010, about 4:05 p.m. central daylight time, a southbound Canadian National Railway freight train collided head on with a northbound Canadian National Railway freight train near Two Harbors, Minnesota. The collision occurred near milepost 13.5 on Canadian National Railway’s Iron Range Subdivision. The trains were operating in nonsignaled territory. The northbound train had 118 empty iron ore railcars and had authority to operate on the single main track. The southbound train had 116 railcars loaded with iron ore and did not have authority to operate on the single main track. The crew of the southbound train entered the main track after failing to properly execute an after-arrival track authority. A total of three locomotives and 14 railcars derailed. All five crewmembers on the two trains were injured and transported to hospitals. Four crewmembers were treated and released; one crewmember remained hospitalized for further treatment. Canadian National Railway estimated damages at $8.1 million. As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) makes recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration, Canadian National Railway, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the United Transportation Union, Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, Kansas City Southern Railway Company, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and Union Pacific Railroad. The NTSB also reiterates previous recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration, BNSF Railway, and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. The NTSB also reiterates and reclassifies recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Recommendation: TO THE CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY: Incorporate the use of handheld signal detection devices into your operational efficiency program on the use of portable electronic devices.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Railroad
Location: Two Harbors, MN, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA10FR009
Accident Reports: Collision of Two Canadian National Railway Freight Trains
Report #: RAR-13-01
Accident Date: 9/30/2010
Issue Date: 3/8/2013
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Canadian National Railway (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Canadian National Railway
Date: 7/29/2016
Response: We note that you have been working with Wi-Tronix to incorporate cellular detection technology into your operations, but that you are concerned about the need to filter out Wi-Tronix transmissions and other outside contaminants, such as cellular transmissions in urban environments. As you point out, the algorithm has not yet proven accurate enough to ensure that alerts are free from false positives. Please send us the relevant data to review. We are pleased that you are in favor of pairing cell detection with inward-facing cameras, using the video recorded by an inward-facing camera to support the alert of the cell-detection device, and that you have pilot-tested inward-facing cameras on two subdivisions, including random compliance monitoring that looks for electronic device distraction in your tests. You may be interested to know that the FRA currently plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to mandate the installation of locomotive recording devices. Pending completion of action to implement Safety Recommendation R-13-11, the recommendation is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: Canadian National Railway
To: NTSB
Date: 12/8/2015
Response: -From Sam Berrada, Vice-President, CN Safety and Sustainability: CN Update of March 26, 2013: CN understands the importance of eliminating the use of personal electronic devices in the operating cab of locomotives. The difficulty lies in identifying the specific use of these devices. CN is in favor of utilizing technology to identify personal electronic device use, however, we have concerns that handheld signal detection technology would be detected by our Wi-Tronix system resulting in ''false positive" readings. CN utilizes WiTronix products and services to wirelessly monitor the location and performance of approximately half of the road locomotives on our system. CN has asked Wi-tronix to determine if the signal used by Wi-tronix would be detected by this handheld technology. Once the Witronix signal issue is resolved, issues concerning personal property confiscation would need to be addressed. CN will follow up with NTSB on a final response to the above recommendation. Current CN Update: CN has completed our evaluation of the available technology. As noted in previous correspondence, CN had a concern that Wi-tronix data transmission may interfere with the detection of personal electronic devices in the locomotive cab. We were able to confirm that Wi-tronix does in fact use cellular based data transmission, which would be detected using the technology NTSB recommended. For the past 12 months, CN has been working with Wi-tronix, which is developing a technology that could detect cellular data transmissions in the cab of a locomotive. The technology would need to filter out Wi-tronix transmissions and other outside contaminants (cellular transmissions in urban environments). Unfortunately, the algorithm has not proven to be accurate enough at this time to ensure alerts are free from false positives. If the technology advances and becomes proven, CN is a proponent of pairing cell detection with inward-facing cameras. If cellular use is detected, the video from an inward camera recording could be reviewed to support the alert. CN is moving forward with inward-facing camera technology in the US and is an active member of the rulemaking process within the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee. CN is pilot testing inward-facing cameras on two subdivisions and has included random compliance monitoring (which includes looking for electronic device distraction). CN will continue to expand our use of inward-facing camera technology in the US as the upcoming regulatory requirements are more clearly defined. In addition to portable electronic detection not being feasible, we feel that that using inward-facing camera technology meets the spirit of the recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: Canadian National Railway
Date: 3/20/2014
Response: On June 26, 2013, based on information contained in CN’s March 26, 2013, letter, Safety Recommendation R-13-9 was classified “Open—Unacceptable Response,” and Safety Recommendations R-13-10 through -13 were classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE, pending a further reply from CN.

From: NTSB
To: Canadian National Railway
Date: 6/26/2013
Response: Pending the CN’s receiving a response from Wi-Tronix regarding whether the Wi-Tronix system can present a false positive signal in determining the use of portable electronic devices by crewmembers, and completion of the recommended action, Safety Recommendation R-13-11 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: Canadian National Railway
To: NTSB
Date: 3/26/2013
Response: -From Claude Mongeau, President and CEO: CN understands the importance of eliminating the use of personal electronic devices in the operating cab of locomotives. The difficulty lies in identifying the specific use of these devices. CN is in favor of utilizing technology to identify personal electronic device use, however we have concerns that handheld signal detection technology would be detected by our Wi-Tronix system resulting in "false positive" readings. CN utilizes Wi-Tronix products and services to wirelessly monitor the location and performance of approximately half of the road locomotives on our system. CN has asked Wi-Tronix to determine if the signal used by Wi-Tronix would be detected by this handheld technology. Once the Wi-Tronix signal issue is resolved, issues concerning personal property confiscation would need to be addressed. CN will follow up with NTSB on a final response to the above recommendation.