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Wed Jun 1, 2016, 11:27 AM

Rail Safety Megathread. Updated September 16, 2020.

Last edited Wed Sep 16, 2020, 10:44 AM - Edit history (45)

This thread is for rail safety in general, as opposed to oil trains or crude by rail.

Previous updates: August 19, 2020; May 18, 2020, September 30, 2019; September 14, 2019; April 18, 2019; April 12, 2019; April 11, 2019; April 10, 2019; March 28, 2019; March 25, 2019; March 22, 2019; December 20, 2018; October 20, 2018; October 9, 2018; September 10, 2018; August 29, 2018; July 31, 2018; May 20, 2018; April 14, 2018, February 22, 2018; November 30, 2016; February 7, 2017; July 5, 2017; July 27, 2017; August 8, 2017; September 22, 2017; November 10, 2017; November 20, 2017; December 5, 2017; December 14, 2017; December 19, 2017; December 21, 2017; December 22, 2017; December 28, 2017; January 2, 2018; January 25, 2018.

Keywords: rail, railroad, railway, rail safety, rail workers, Amtrak, CSX, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, NS, Canadian Pacific, CP, Canadian National, CN, Kansas City Southern, KCS, PanAm, grade crossing, derail, derailment, Federal Railroad Administration, FRA, Ted Mann, positive train control, PTC, National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, MBTA, commuter, commuter rail, Keolis, OLI, Operation Lifesaver, electro-pneumatic brakes, electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, ECP, EP brakes, VRE Virginia Railway Express

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Reply Rail Safety Megathread. Updated September 16, 2020. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2016 OP
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 2016 #1
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Eugene Jun 2016 #3
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2016 #4
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mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2019 #54
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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jun 1, 2016, 11:29 AM

1. Federal Officials Order New Safety Measures to Help Protect Railroad Workers Near Tracks

Federal Officials Order New Safety Measures to Help Protect Railroad Workers Near Tracks

Federal Railroad Administration to expand alcohol- and drug-testing regulations to include track-maintenance workers

By Ted Mann
ted.mann@wsj.com
@TMannWSJ

Updated May 27, 2016 3:21 p.m. ET

Federal railroad officials on Friday ordered new safety measures and expanded drug testing for work crews, following a spate of train accidents, such as one that killed two track workers nearly eight weeks ago.

The Federal Railroad Administration ordered additional protective measures for work crews on or near active railroad tracks, including requiring safeguards such as the use of equipment that can serve as a second line of defense to prevent collisions between workers and trains.

The agency also expanded its existing drug- and alcohol-testing program,—already in place for engineers and dispatchers—to include track maintenance workers such as those killed in an April 3 crash in Chester, Pa., when a train killed a worker and a supervisor when it struck them and a backhoe they were using on an adjacent track.

Some of Friday’s rule changes were first proposed years ago. The rules incorporate some updates mandated by Congress in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Let's go get more about that final rule right now.

Control of Alcohol and Drug Use: Coverage of Maintenance of Way (MOW)
27
May
2016

AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration

DOCKET NUMBER: Docket No. FRA-2009-0039, Notice No. 3

ABSTRACT: In response to Congress’ mandate in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), FRA is expanding the scope of its drug and alcohol regulation to cover MOW employees. This rule also codifies guidance from FRA compliance manuals, responds to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations, and adopts substantive amendments based upon FRA’s regulatory review of 30 years of implementation of this part. The final rule contains two significant differences from FRA’s July 28, 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (79 FR 48380). First, it adopts part 214’s definition of “roadway worker” to define “MOW employee” under this part. Second, because FRA has withdrawn its proposed peer support requirements, subpart K contains a revised version of the troubled employee identification requirements previously in subpart E.

Control of Alcohol and Drug Use: Coverage of Maintenance of Way (MOW) Employees and Retrospective Regulatory Review-Based Amendments

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jun 28, 2016, 12:22 PM

2. Colorado railroad crossing where 5 family members were killed was awaiting improvements

Colorado railroad crossing where 5 family members were killed was awaiting improvements

State transportation officials are in the process of improving the site near Trinidad

By Jesse Paul | jpaul@denverpost.com and Natalie Munio | nmunio@denverpost.com

June 27, 2016 | UPDATED: 3 hours ago

The southern Colorado railroad crossing where five family members — including three young girls — died after their minivan was struck by a train as they headed to church has been the site of at least six crashes, one of them fatal, since 1986 and been eyed for safety improvements for years. ... State transportation officials began examining the site north of Trinidad in late 2013 and subsequently targeted it for a significant safety overhaul.

A $271,000 contract has been signed for the work to install advanced signaling, and Las Animas County commissioners approved the project June 14. Amy Ford, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said Monday the initiative is pending a review of the application by the Public Utilities Commission.

The project will add flashers, gates, bells and a constant warning system at the at-grade crossing, which currently is marked only with signs. An application calls the enhancements a “safety improvement project,” noting the roughly 180 vehicles that pass through each day.

“I don’t know what took so long,” said Leeann Fabec, Las Animas County’s administrator. “That crossing has been there for probably 80 years. It’s a rural road that’s heavily used. I’m surprised myself that it took so long to come to the forefront.”

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jun 29, 2016, 10:01 PM

3. The Latest: DOT Head Urges Haste in Rail Safety Upgrades

Last edited Tue Aug 8, 2017, 07:37 AM - Edit history (1)

Source: Associated Press

The Latest: DOT Head Urges Haste in Rail Safety Upgrades

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AMARILLO, Texas — Jun 29, 2016, 7:50 PM ET

The Latest on the head-on train collision in the Texas Panhandle (all times local):

6 p.m.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is urging the railroad industry "to move as fast" as it possibly can to put new safety technology called positive train control systems into operation.

His comments Wednesday came a day after two BNSF Railway freight trains collided head-on when their crews found themselves on the same track in the Texas Panhandle. Two crew members were killed, another is missing and presumed dead, and another was injured in the crash.

Positive train control, or PTC, relies on GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor train positions and automatically slow or stop trains that are in danger of colliding, derailing due to excessive speed or about to enter track where crews are working or that is otherwise off limits. BNSF has pledged to meet a 2018 federal deadline to adopt the technology, but least three freight railroads have said they'll need an extension to 2020.

Foxx told reporters in Washington said any collision is "a terrible event" and "ones that technology could have helped us avoid remind us how critical it is to get this technology in place."

-snip-


Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/latest-remains-crew-members-found-missing-40231507

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jul 14, 2016, 11:32 AM

4. Italy Vows to Improve Rail Safety After Deadly Crash

This didn't happen in North America, but it is on topic.

Italy Vows to Improve Rail Safety After Deadly Crash

Traffic on part of the line where the accident occurred is controlled by a system of telephone calls between station managers

By Manuela Mesco

July 13, 2016 12:25 p.m. ET

....
Although most of Italy’s rail network has modern safety systems in place, traffic on that part of the line in Puglia is controlled through a system of telephone calls between station managers. Trains can only proceed on their routes after a station manager has given verbal authorization to their counterpart at the next station.

Police officers and a Ferrotramviaria representative said that one of the two trains shouldn’t have been there at the time of the crash, suggesting that the telephone communication system had failed.

Between 2005 and 2015 Italy spent €4.5 billion on advanced traffic-control technology, said the Italian railway-safety agency. More funds will be invested to enhance safety technology on the national network, Mr. Delrio said. But remote sections still rely on an antiquated system of traffic control.

Ferrotramviaria’s Director General Massimo Nitti said 37 km of railway has already been modernized. On the section where the accident happened, a second track had been scheduled to be built, he said.

Write to Manuela Mesco at manuela.mesco@wsj.com

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jul 14, 2016, 03:41 PM

5. Report: Train didn't heed stop signal in deadly Panhandle wreck

Report: Train didn't heed stop signal in deadly Panhandle wreck

Report: Train didn't heed stop signal in deadly Panhandle wreck

Posted: July 14, 2016 - 10:25am

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DALLAS (AP) — A train failed to heed a stop signal before it barreled head-on into another freight train last month in the Texas Panhandle, killing three, according to a preliminary federal report released Thursday.

An eastbound BNSF Railway train failed to slow at a yellow warning signal on June 28 and then continued past a red stop signal before striking an oncoming BNSF train, inspectors for the National Transportation Safety Board said in the report.

The eastbound train, bound for Chicago, was supposed to stop and allow the Los Angeles-bound train to pass. It was traveling just over 60 mph when it passed the yellow signal, though trains are not supposed to travel any faster than 40 mph at a yellow signal so that they can stop in time at a red signal. The train was traveling about 65 mph when it passed the stop signal.

NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said it's not clear how far beyond the stop signal that the point of impact occurred. ... "We're still in the gathering phase of this investigation," he said, adding that a final NTSB report will be released at some point next year. He declined to comment further. ... The collision occurred outside the town of Panhandle, about 25 miles northeast of Amarillo. Each train was carrying two crew members. One jumped to safety, the other three died.

The NTSB report can be seen at the linked website.

Here is more about that "preliminary federal report released Thursday."

Please keep in mind as you read this and other articles that this is a preliminary report. There is still much to learn.

Thursday, July 14, 2016
NTSB releases preliminary report on BNSF Panhandle collision

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Engineering Editor

One of the trains involved in the June 28 head-on collision between two BNSF intermodal trains outside of Panhandle, Texas passed a red signal before the accident. ... This comes from the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) preliminary report of the incident, which was published July 13.

The report reads, "The signal system was lined to route the westbound train into the Panhandle control point siding at milepost 526.1 while holding the eastbound train on the main track before the east end of the siding.

"Preliminary review of signal event recorder data and tests of the signal system indicate the last signal the eastbound train passed before the collision was a stop (red) signal. The previous signal the eastbound train passed was an approach (yellow) signal.

"A preliminary review of locomotive event recorder data revealed that the eastbound train was traveling about 62 mph when it went by the approach signal at the west end of the Panhandle siding and about 65 mph when it went by the stop signal at the east end of the Panhandle siding.
....

NTSB said the investigation is ongoing and it will supplement or correct information during the course of its investigation. Full report HERE.

Collision of two BNSF trains Executive Summary

Western Railroad Discussion > NTSB preliminary report collision at Panhandle, Texas

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Aug 2, 2016, 12:00 PM

6. FRA issues final rule on identifying passenger railroad safety hazards

Monday, August 01, 2016

FRA issues final rule on identifying passenger railroad safety hazards

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor

The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a final rule on System Safety Programs (SSP).

The rule requires passenger railroads to proactively identify potential safety hazards across their operations and work to reduce and mitigate them. The rule will help prevent safety problems from escalating and resulting in incidents, injuries or deaths.

"Operating a railroad safely requires more than simply not having an incident – it demands looking for problems before they cause an injury or a fatality," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This new rule is a huge step in the right direction to make passenger rail service even safer."

The SSP rule requires passenger railroads to implement, among other items, a defined and measurable safety culture; identify potential safety hazards in their operations and work to reduce or eliminate those hazards and to document and demonstrate how they will achieve compliance with FRA regulations.

8/1/2016

Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA unveils final version of new rule governing passenger-rail safety

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) late last week issued a new final rule that requires passenger railroads to identify safety hazards and to work to reduce and mitigate them.

The rule is designed to prevent safety problems from escalating into incidents, injuries or deaths, FRA officials said in a press release.

The System Safety Program (SSP) requires passenger railroads to put into place a defined and measurable safety culture; identify potential safety hazards and reduce or eliminate them; and to document and demonstrate how they will achieve compliance with FRA regulations.

The rule aims to build on current regulations to help the industry move from a reactive to more proactive approach to safety, FRA officials said.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Sep 15, 2016, 12:44 PM

7. Number of U.S. railroad workers testing positive for drug use skyrockets

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Sep 30, 2016, 10:38 AM

8. N.J. Train Crash Raises Questions About Rail Safety

Audio file. Click to listen.

N.J. Train Crash Raises Questions About Rail Safety

September 29, 2016·4:33 PM ET

Heard on All Things Considered

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Steven Ditmeyer, former director of research and development at the Federal Railroad Administration, about the New Jersey Transit train crash.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 28, 2016, 03:03 PM

9. Feds: Railroads Slow to Make Progress on Train Technology

Last edited Tue Aug 8, 2017, 07:34 AM - Edit history (1)

Source: Associated Press

Feds: Railroads Slow to Make Progress on Train Technology

By MICHAEL R. SISAK, ASSOCIATED PRESS PHILADELPHIA — Nov 28, 2016, 1:27 PM ET

The nation's three busiest commuter railroads - which together serve nearly 1 million riders in the New York City area each day - continue to lag behind their smaller West Coast counterparts in installing sophisticated train-control technology that's seen as an antidote to crashes involving speeding and other human factors, federal regulators said Monday.

The Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and Metro-North all made scant progress on implementing GPS-based positive-train control in the quarter ending Sept. 30, according to new Federal Railroad Administration data. Over the last three months, the LIRR and Metro-North have trained more employees on the system, the data shows, but neither they nor NJ Transit installed it on any tracks.

The railroads say the federal data doesn't fully reflect their progress and that they are still on track to meet a December 2018 deadline to install the technology, which is designed to automatically slow or stop trains that are going too fast.

-snip-

The LIRR and Metro-North say they've installed PTC equipment on more than 300 train cars and placed more than 2,000 transponders along their tracks. NJ Transit says it's awaiting federal approval to acquire a slice of required radio spectrum and has testing scheduled for next year on a 6-mile stretch of track.

-snip-


Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/feds-railroads-slow-make-progress-train-technology-43821373

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Nov 30, 2016, 01:25 PM

10. FRA to railroad employers: Remember that OSHA regs may apply

FRA to railroad employers: Remember that OSHA regs may apply

November 29, 2016

Washington – A recent safety advisory from the Federal Railroad Administration reminds railroads, railroad contractors and their respective employees to remain cautious during work that falls outside the scope of the agency’s safety regulations but within the jurisdiction of OSHA.

From 2000 to 2015, more than 60 railroad workers have been killed while performing work not covered by FRA safety regulations, according to the agency. Factors and actions that may have contributed to the deaths include ascending or descending; falling objects; electrocution; slips, trips and falls; and highway vehicle collisions. The National Transportation Safety Board discussed fatalities in the industry in 2014 and emphasized that OSHA regulations may apply to railroads and railroad contractors.

FRA issued four recommendations in its safety advisory:

•Develop hazard-recognition strategies identifying and addressing existing conditions posing actual or potential safety hazards, emphasizing the contributing factors or actions involved in roadway worker-related fatalities occurring since 2000.
•Provide annual training to roadway workers on the use of hazard-recognition strategies developed by the railroad or the railroad contractor.
•Institute procedures for mandatory job safety briefings compliant with OSHA’s regulations prior to initiating any roadway worker activity.
•Develop and apply Good Faith Challenge Procedures for roadway workers who believe a task is unsafe or an identified hazard has not been mitigated.

“FRA encourages railroad and railroad contractor industry members to take actions consistent with the preceding recommendations and any other actions that may help ensure the safety of roadway workers,” the agency stated in a notice published in the Nov. 28 Federal Register. “Although the primary purpose of this Safety Advisory is for railroads and railroad contractors to apply these recommendations to activities that fall outside the scope of FRA’s safety regulations, FRA also encourages the industry to apply these recommendations to activities FRA’s regulations govern.”

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2017, 08:17 PM

11. Defective axle blamed for 2013 fiery North Dakota derailment

Last edited Tue Aug 8, 2017, 07:37 AM - Edit history (1)

Source: Associated Press

Defective axle blamed for 2013 fiery North Dakota derailment

By DAVE KOLPACK
Feb. 7, 2017 6:22 PM EST

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A defective axle broke and caused a 2013 train derailment that led to a series of explosions just a quarter-mile outside a small North Dakota town, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

A BNSF train carrying soybeans derailed and was struck by one carrying oil, setting off explosions near the small town of Casselton, about 20 miles west of Fargo. About 1,400 residents were evacuated from their homes. No one was hurt.

NTSB investigators said during a meeting in Washington that the axle made by Standard Steel in 2002 was on the 45th car of the grain train. Had the axle been subjected to more thorough testing when its bearings and wheels were remounted at a BNSF shop in 2010, investigators say the defect would likely have been discovered. Such testing is now required.

After the crash, the manufacturer worked with the industry to identify and remove similar axles that might have been defective. The agency said Tuesday that any remaining axles in question have likely been taken out of service and new manufacture testing should detect and prevent similar issues.

-snip-


Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4603184330c5410ebb4fa1ea0b352b94/ntsb-set-release-cause-fiery-north-dakota-train-crash

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 30, 2017, 03:24 PM

12. NTSB releases witness interviews and documents related to deadly 2016 Panhandle, TX train collision

Posted May 27, 2017 04:01 am - Updated May 27, 2017 09:58 pm

By RICKY TREON ricky.treon@amarillo.com

‘It looked like the Hindenburg’: NTSB releases witness interviews, other documents related to deadly Panhandle train collision

In documents recently released by the National Transportation Safety Board, witnesses described the deadly train collision near Panhandle that killed three people and talking to the crash’s only survivor.


The article has links to the NTSB.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 30, 2017, 04:05 PM

13. Wilmington News Journal - Delaware Online: Rail safety questioned as fuel shipments likely to go up

Warning: pop-ups galore, and annoying autoplay video.

Rail safety questioned as fuel shipments likely to go up

Karl Baker, The News Journal Published 12:13 p.m. ET May 26, 2017 | Updated 1:17 p.m. ET May 26, 2017

As more train cars carrying volatile fuel are likely to roll into Delaware over the next year, concerns are growing over how well the state's freight tracks are inspected for derailment-causing flaws.

Delaware is one of three states that are home to both a large oil refinery and also do not employ inspectors to oversee railroads, the News Journal has learned.

Instead, the job of regulating railroad safety is left to federal officials, whose resources are spread thin across the tens of thousands of miles of rail throughout the country. In 2016, those regulators conducted a handful of inspections on Delaware tracks.

While far fewer derailments occur today than a generation ago, freight trains are transporting more dangerous products than the foodstuffs that dominated rail shipments in previous decades, said Allen Zarembski, a railroad engineering professor at the University of Delaware.
....

Contact Karl Baker at kbaker@delawareonline.com or (302) 324-2329. Follow him on Twitter @kbaker6.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 5, 2017, 02:57 PM

14. North Dakota may halt rail inspections aimed at derailments

North Dakota may halt rail inspections aimed at derailments

JAMES MACPHERSON, ASSOCIATED PRESSJuly 3, 2017 Updated: July 3, 2017 2:17pm

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The end of the line may be in sight for a North Dakota safety program aimed at lowering the risk of disastrous train derailments involving the state's crude oil.

The pilot program, which includes two rail safety inspectors and a manager to supplement inspections by the Federal Railroad Administration, or FRA, is halfway through its four-year run this month and likely will be scrapped in two years, said House Majority Leader Al Carlson and his Republican Senate counterpart, Rich Wardner.

They said the program duplicates federal and industry inspections programs and is not needed as the bulk of the state's crude oil is now moved by pipelines. ... "I think it will run its course, and when it's done, my gut feeling is we won't re-up it," Wardner said.

Carlson said the pilot program was an overreaction following a spate of accidents involving North Dakota crude in the U.S. and Canada, including one in Casselton, the hometown of then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who supported the idea. ... "Every other program — once you start them, everybody wants to keep them. That's government," Carlson said.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jul 27, 2017, 04:10 PM

15. NTSB: We can't know why SUV was on tracks before train crash

NTSB: We can’t know why SUV was on tracks before train crash

Originally published July 24, 2017 at 9:25 pm Updated July 25, 2017 at 5:51 pm

By COLLEEN LONG and JENNIFER PELTZ
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal safety investigators said Tuesday they can’t determine why an SUV ended up in the path of an oncoming commuter train, causing a crash that killed six people at a rail crossing in suburban New York in 2015. ... Detailing the results of the nearly 2 1/2-year investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board suggested evaluating the safety risks at some rail crossings and said the design of the train’s power-providing third rail played a role in the toll of deaths and injuries in the crash in the community of Valhalla. The NTSB concluded the SUV driver’s actions were the probable cause of the wreck, but Chairman Robert Sumwalt said those actions remained a mystery.
....

Ellen Brody drove onto the tracks, and when the gate arm came down onto her SUV, she got out and inspected the vehicle before getting back in and driving further onto the tracks. The impact of the crash sparked an explosion, and flames blasted into the Metro-North train, burning out the first rail car and killing Brody and five people aboard the train. More than a dozen others were injured.

Brody wasn’t on the phone, impaired or fatigued, NTSB investigators found. They found all the signals were working properly; the train’s brakes worked and were pulled on time; the warning signs at the crossing worked and were properly marked; the train wasn’t speeding; the engineer wasn’t fatigued or distracted; the track wasn’t faulty; and the emergency exit windows worked. ... Sumwalt hypothesized that Brody wasn’t aware that she had driven into a railroad crossing while inching through traffic.
....

The power-providing rail stayed in one piece, like a 340-foot-long (104-meter) spear, when it was ripped from the ground, investigators said. The rail then sliced through the first passenger car, contributing to the death toll. ... NTSB investigators said the lack of a “controlled failure” mechanism that would split up third rails in such situations was a potential safety problem. The agency recommended that railways that use third rails evaluate the safety risks at ground-level crossings like the one where the crash happened, in the town of Mount Pleasant. The town was weighing whether to close the crossing altogether.
....

___

Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

I've seen photographs of the incident. The SUV was shoved into the third rail (aka, the power-providing rail), which pierced the SUV near its fuel tank. Look at the rear door on the driver's side:



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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Aug 8, 2017, 07:33 AM

16. US nixes sleep apnea test plan for truckers, train engineers

Source: Associated Press

US nixes sleep apnea test plan for truckers, train engineers

By MICHAEL BALSAMO and MICHAEL R. SISAK
32 minutes ago

U.S. officials are abandoning plans to require sleep apnea screening for truck drivers and train engineers, a decision that safety experts say puts millions of lives at risk.

The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said late last week that they are no longer pursuing the regulation that would require testing for the fatigue-inducing disorder that’s been blamed for deadly rail crashes in New York City and New Jersey and several highway crashes.

The agencies argue that it should be up to railroads and trucking companies to decide whether to test employees. One railroad that does test, Metro-North in the New York City suburbs, found that 11.6 percent of its engineers have sleep apnea.

The decision to kill the sleep apnea regulation is the latest step in President Donald Trump’s campaign to drastically slash federal regulations. The Trump administration has withdrawn or delayed hundreds of proposed regulations since he took office in January — moves the president has said will help bolster economic growth.

-snip-


Read more: https://apnews.com/ac5ac5c34bf64a09af0a0678e0823ff6/US-nixes-sleep-apnea-test-plan-for-truckers,-train-engineers

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Sep 21, 2017, 06:23 PM

18. U.S. safety board says train crash engineers had undiagnosed sleep disorder

Source: Reuters

#HEALTH NEWSSEPTEMBER 21, 2017 / 1:00 PM / UPDATED 2 HOURS AGO

U.S. safety board says train crash engineers had undiagnosed sleep disorder

David Shepardson
4 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The engineers in two New York City area commuter train crashes suffered from sleep apnea that had not been diagnosed, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Thursday.

The NTSB released factual findings on Thursday regarding its investigations into the crashes and said it planned to hold a meeting next February about both incidents and safety recommendations.

A New Jersey Transit train crashed in Hoboken, New Jersey, in September 2016, killing one person and injuring more than 100.

In January, a Long Island Rail Road train crashed, injuring more than 100 people.

-snip-


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trains-crash/u-s-safety-board-says-train-crash-engineers-had-undiagnosed-sleep-disorder-idUSKCN1BW2H2

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Nov 10, 2017, 04:29 PM

19. Canada Proposing Fatigue Regulation for Rail Workers

Canada Proposing Fatigue Regulation for Rail Workers

Canada Proposing Fatigue Regulation for Rail Workers

A committee recommended last year that Transport Canada, in cooperation with the federal departments responsible for health and labor, take immediate action through a working group to develop options to improve the management of railway crew fatigue.

Nov 08, 2017

Saying Canadians deserve the safest transportation system possible and should be confident that railroad workers are ready for duty and well rested, Marc Garneau, the government's minister of Transport, on Nov. 7 announced what he described as a first step toward addressing fatigue management in the rail industry. Fatigue is common in the 24/7 railway transportation industry, where employees are subject to shiftwork, disruptive schedules, and long hours, according to his agency.

He said a Notice of Intent will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, to outline a proposed approach to incorporate up-to-date fatigue science in current requirements and further strengthen Canada's safety regime.

Garneau said Canadians, railway workers, and anyone else with a vested interest in rail safety are encouraged to provide comments following the publication of the notice. It follows Transport Canada's continued work to address rail fatigue and Garneau's commitment following the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in its June 2016 report, An Update on Rail Safety.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 20, 2017, 04:07 PM

20. Ignored Safety Procedures, Fractured Safety Program Led to Fatal Amtrak Derailment

Ignored Safety Procedures, Fractured Safety Program Led to Fatal Amtrak Derailment

11/14/2017

​WASHINGTON (Nov. 14, 2017) — The National Transportation Safety Board determined Tuesday the April 3, 2016, derailment of Amtrak train 89 near Chester, Pennsylvania was caused by deficient safety management across many levels of Amtrak and the resultant lack of a clear, consistent and accepted vision for safety.

A backhoe operator and a track supervisor were killed, and 39 people were injured when Amtrak train 89, traveling on the Northeast Corridor from Philadelphia to Washington on track 3, struck a backhoe at about 7:50 a.m. The train engineer saw equipment and people working on and near track 3 and initiated emergency braking that slowed the train from 106 mph to approximately 99 mph at the time of impact.

The NTSB also determined allowing a passenger train to travel at maximum authorized speed on unprotected track where workers were present, the absence of shunting devices, the foreman’s failure to conduct a job briefing at the start of the shift, all coupled with the numerous inconsistent views of safety and safety management throughout Amtrak, led to the accident.

“Amtrak’s safety culture is failing, and is primed to fail again, until and unless Amtrak changes the way it practices safety management,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “Investigators found a labor-management relationship so adversarial that safety programs became contentious at the bargaining table, with the unions ultimately refusing to participate.”

The NTSB also noted the Federal Railroad Administration’s failure to require redundant signal protection, such as shunting, for maintenance-of-way work crews contributed to this accident.

Post-accident toxicology determined that the backhoe operator tested positive for cocaine, and the track supervisor and tested positive for codeine and morphine. The locomotive engineer tested positive for marijuana. The NTSB determined that while drug use was not a factor in this accident, it was symptomatic of a weak safety culture at Amtrak.

As a result of this investigation, the NTSB issued 14 safety recommendations including nine to Amtrak.

The NTSB also made two safety recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration, and three safety recommendations were issued to the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, American Railway and Airway Supervisors Association, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen.

The abstract of the NTSB’s final report, that includes the findings, probable cause and safety recommendations is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xnWpg. The final report will be publicly released in the next several days.

The webcast of the board meeting for this investigation is available for 90 days at http://ntsb.capitolconnection.org/ .

Contact: NTSB Media Relations
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
Terry Williams
(202) 314-6100
Terry.williams@ntsb.gov

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Dec 5, 2017, 07:13 PM

21. USDOT opts to repeal ECP brake rulemaking

Last edited Wed Dec 6, 2017, 06:15 PM - Edit history (5)

Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
12/5/2017

USDOT opts to repeal ECP brake rulemaking

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) repealed a May 2015 rulemaking that would have required the installation of electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes on certain tank cars, according to U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). The USDOT had until Dec. 4 to publish a determination that the ECP rule either was justified or should be repealed.

The Federal Railroad Administration rulemaking had set a timetable for requiring ECP brakes on newer tank cars trains used to haul certain hazardous or flammable materials, such as ethanol and crude oil. ECP brakes issue electronic signals to simultaneously apply and release brakes throughout the length of a train instead of each car applying brakes individually — a system the government considers more effective in emergency situations.

A provision in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act directed the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) to analyze the rule and reevaluate ECP braking results. In a report issued in October, NAS officials said the approach used to mandate ECP brakes over other technologies was incomplete and unconvincing, said Thune — who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation — in a press release. NAS officials also could not conclude that ECP brakes' emergency performance was superior to other braking systems, he said. ... Moreover, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study released in October 2016 found the UDOT's justification for the rulemaking lacked transparency, said Thune. The FAST Act had required the GAO to conduct an independent evidence-based evaluation of ECP brakes.
....

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) had lobbied to repeal the rulemaking. AAR officials believe the widespread use of ECP brakes would not provide any meaningful safety benefits compared with existing braking systems, and that the brakes would impose very high costs on railroads for minimal safety benefits.

National Academies of Sciences ECP report:

Review of Department of Transportation Testing of Electronically Controlled Pneumatic Brakes

or

Committee on the Review of Department of Transportation Testing of Electronically Controlled Pneumatic Brakes

Official news release (from PHMSA, not FRA. Why?):

USDOT Announces Intent to Repeal Electronically Controlled Pneumatic Brake Mandate

December 4, 2017
Contact: DOT Press Office
Tel.: (202) 366-4570

WASHINGTON - In accordance with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Public Law 114-94), the U.S. Department of Transportation today announced the final updated Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) in regard to Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes on certain trains. After careful review in accordance with the Congressional mandate contained in the FAST Act, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will rescind the ECP mandate.

This determination was made with congressionally-mandated input from the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board, U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) and studies by the FRA, which found that the cost-benefit analyses are not sufficient justification for mandating ECP brakes.

The National Academy of Sciences determined it was unable to make a conclusive statement regarding the emergency performance of ECP brakes relative to other braking systems. In addition, the updated RIA incorporated recommendations from audits conducted by the U.S. General Accountability Office and updated costs and benefits of the ECP brake provision based on current economic conditions. This review demonstrated that the costs of this mandate would exceed three-fold the benefits it would produce.

###

Contact Us
Office of Governmental, International, and Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
United States
phmsa.publicaffairs@dot.gov

Phone: 202-366-4831
Fax: 202-366-7431

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Dec 6, 2017, 05:24 PM

22. Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

Source: Reuters

#BUSINESS NEWS DECEMBER 6, 2017 / 6:03 AM / UPDATED 5 HOURS AGO

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

Eric M. Johnson
5 MIN READ

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The investigative arm of the U.S. Congress is launching a probe into the safety of increasingly long freight trains being operated by CSX Corp (CSX.O), Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) and other major U.S. railroads to boost profitability, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.

Train length is currently unregulated. Any push to add rules would likely face stiff industry opposition because railroads use longer trains to boost margins through the better use of fuel, locomotive power, and rail cars without having to add extra crew.

In addition to the GAO study, safety regulator the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has beefed up its presence at CSX rail yards, according to CSX employees and SMART Union Chairman Dale Barnett, citing conversations with FRA inspectors.

FRA spokesman Marc Willis declined to characterize concerns over CSX train length but said any appearance of increased inspections is due partly to safety complaints and a spike in railroad accidents or incidents.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-train-safety/growing-length-of-u-s-freight-trains-in-federal-crosshairs-after-crashes-gao-idUSKBN1E01B9

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Response to Eugene (Reply #22)

Wed Dec 6, 2017, 06:23 PM

23. 2016: CSX train derails in Northeast Washington, leaking hazardous chemicals and disrupting travel

Transportation

CSX train derails in Northeast Washington, leaking hazardous chemicals and disrupting travel

By Faiz Siddiqui, Luz Lazo and Michael Smith May 1, 2016

A CSX freight train derailed in Northeast Washington early Sunday, spilling hazardous chemicals along a busy rail corridor. The wreck stranded some residents away from their homes, forced the closure of a Metro station and snarled traffic as emergency personnel sought to contain the leaks and clear the wreckage.

Officials said 14 rail cars of the 175-car train left the tracks. A rail engineer and a conductor had been aboard the train but were accounted for, authorities said. No evacuations were ordered, and no one was injured.
....

Peter Hermann, Perry Stein and Ashley Halsey III contributed to this report.

Faiz Siddiqui is a metro reporter covering transportation and local issues. He has previously contributed to NPR, The Boston Globe and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Follow @faizsays

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
Follow @luzcita

Michael Smith covers breaking news on the weekends.

There was this question:

Rain-Snow Line
5/1/2016 8:01 PM EDT [Edited]

How do freights get thru Washington if they are coming from Cumberland?

ETA -- GreaterGreaterWashington to the rescue.

From that article:

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Dec 14, 2017, 05:29 PM

24. Metro-North likely to miss deadline for positive train control

Metro-North likely to miss deadline for positive train control

Matt Coyne, mcoyne@lohud.com Published 6:00 a.m. ET Dec. 14, 2017 | Updated 12:01 p.m. ET Dec. 14, 2017

....
After being given nearly a decade to implement lifesaving technology, Metro-North is going to have to scramble to meet federal deadlines for positive train control.

Despite more than a billion dollars in loans and grants handed out since the system was first mandated in 2008, and a three-year extension in 2015, Metro-North and some of the country's other largest railroads are lagging as the Dec. 31, 2018, deadline looms.

A Journal News/lohud analysis of the reports that railroads are required to submit to the Federal Railroad Administration highlighting positive train control work shows that if current progress holds, the region's three commuter railroads — Metro-North, NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road — won't meet the deadline.

Additionally, it appears two of the next three busiest railroads, Metra in Chicago and Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, are behind, too. ... Only the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), in the Philadelphia area, has been activating the system.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Dec 19, 2017, 02:24 PM

25. Amtrak safety record already under scrutiny before fatal derailment

Source: Reuters

#BUSINESS NEWS DECEMBER 19, 2017 / 1:04 AM / UPDATED 28 MINUTES AGO

Amtrak safety record already under scrutiny before fatal derailment

David Shepardson, Daniel Trotta
5 MIN READ

(Reuters) - The deadly derailment of an Amtrak train south of Seattle is likely to intensify scrutiny of the national passenger railroad company’s safety record, which was already under the microscope following a series of fatal incidents.

-snip-

Amtrak’s co-chief executive, Richard Anderson, told reporters earlier on Monday he would not speculate on the cause of the derailment and said safety was the company’s top priority.

However, Anderson acknowledged that a working Positive Train Control (PTC), a system that automatically slows trains if they are going too fast, had not been installed on that stretch of track. PTC also prevents train-on-train collisions and stops a train from passing through misaligned tracks.

Moreover, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt just last month issued a scathing critique of Amtrak’s culture, saying a future breakdown was likely.

“Amtrak’s safety culture is failing and is primed to fail again, until and unless Amtrak changes the way it practices safety management,” Sumwalt said on Nov. 14.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-washington-train-amtrak/amtrak-safety-record-already-under-scrutiny-before-fatal-derailment-idUSKBN1ED0FM

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Dec 21, 2017, 08:40 PM

26. Trump rail safety oversight in focus after Amtrak crash

Source: Reuters

#U.S. DECEMBER 21, 2017 / 1:04 PM / UPDATED 2 HOURS AGO

Trump rail safety oversight in focus after Amtrak crash

David Shepardson
6 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As investigators sift through the wreckage of this week’s Amtrak train crash in Washington state, critics have begun questioning President Donald Trump’s recent efforts to roll back or delay finalizing U.S. rail safety regulations.

Making American railroads safer drew renewed attention after the passenger train derailed on Monday morning while speeding onto a bridge, killing three passengers and sending about 100 people to hospitals.

The accident occurred as the U.S. Transportation Department is reviewing rail safety requirements or proposals set under prior administrations. The White House has promised a sweeping effort to eliminate regulations throughout government and cut at least two existing regulations for every new one.

Earlier this month, the department reversed a decision requiring crude oil rail tank cars to be fitted with an advanced braking system designed to prevent fiery derailments. The requirement to install electronically controlled pneumatic brakes had been included in a package of safety reforms the Obama administration unveiled in 2015 following a series of deadly derailments stemming from the U.S. shale boom.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-washington-train-safety/trump-rail-safety-oversight-in-focus-after-amtrak-crash-idUSKBN1EF2HX

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Dec 22, 2017, 11:21 AM

27. APNewsBreak: 298 die in rail crashes system could've stopped

I thought I posted this yesterday, but I can't find it now. Here we go again:

APNewsBreak: 298 die in rail crashes system could've stopped

Michael Balsamo and Michael Sisak, Associated Press Updated 12:55 am, Friday, December 22, 2017

Nearly 300 people have died in train crashes that could have been prevented if railroads across the U.S. implemented critical speed-control technology that federal safety investigators have been pushing for close to five decades, according to rail crash data obtained by The Associated Press.

But despite overwhelming evidence it could save lives, Congress extended the deadlines for railroads to implement so-called positive train control for years.

All the while, new high-speed train routes continue to spring into operation without the technology, including the new route involved in Monday's Amtrak crash south of Seattle that killed three people and one in Florida that's expected to start service in the coming weeks.

Data that the National Transportation Safety Board provided to AP on Wednesday shows the crashes that the agency says could have been prevented by positive train control have led to 298 deaths, 6,763 injuries and nearly $385 million in property damage. ... The records list crashes from 1969 through May 2015 — when an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people — and do not include Monday's wreck outside of Seattle, which experts say likely could have been prevented by the technology.
....

___
Follow Balsamo at https://twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 and Sisak at https://twitter.com/mikesisak .

___
For complete coverage of the deadly derailment, click here: https://www.apnews.com/tag/TrainDerailment .

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Dec 28, 2017, 04:35 PM

28. Could Amtrak catastrophe happen in Sacramento? It almost did, leaving some riders scared and angry

I had read about the incident, but I did not know until now that what had happened was that the train went through a turnout at too high a speed.

Could Amtrak catastrophe happen here? It almost did, leaving some riders scared and angry

BY TONY BIZJAK
tbizjak@sacbee.com

DECEMBER 26, 2017 03:55 AM

UPDATED DECEMBER 26, 2017 02:17 PM

Could last Monday’s Amtrak train crash in Washington happen here? It nearly did, a year ago this month.

The spectacular crash near Olympia this week that left at least three dead and dozens injured is eerily reminiscent of a dramatic near derailment outside Davis last December that injured five people, prompted Amtrak to discipline several employees and caused passengers and local officials to criticize Amtrak for lack of transparency about safety procedures.

In that case, an apparently distracted Amtrak engineer allowed a Capitol Corridor service train to run through a track switch at nearly double the allowable speed – 78 mph in a 40 mph zone – causing the train cars to lurch violently back and forth, sending people, coffees and laptops flying. A crew member told passengers she thought the train was going to “eat dirt.” Passengers said the train tilted so steeply they could see the ground outside the window rushing at them.

Federal investigators this week said the Cascades passenger train in Washington also was going too fast, 80 miles per hour on a 30 mph curve, sending train cars tumbling onto a freeway. Officials said they are looking into whether the engineer was distracted.
....

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jan 2, 2018, 06:32 PM

29. U.S. urges railroads to quickly install anti-crash safety system

Source: Reuters

#U.S. JANUARY 2, 2018 / 3:11 PM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO

U.S. urges railroads to quickly install anti-crash safety system

David Shepardson
3 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urged the nation’s railroads and transit agencies to take all possible measures to meet deadlines to install a safety system called positive train control (PTC) to prevent crashes.

Letters dated Dec. 27, which were made public on Tuesday, said Chao wanted railroads to “greatly accelerate” efforts to meet congressional deadlines. A deadly Amtrak crash last month near Seattle that killed three occurred on a section of track that did not have the PTC system operating.

The system is designed to prevent derailments caused by excessive speed. Investigators have said several deadly U.S. train crashes in recent years could have been prevented if the system was in place.

-snip-

The letters went to the chief executives of railroads, including Amtrak, BNSF Railway Co, Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO), CSX Corp (CSX.O), Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC.N), Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) and transit systems in Chicago, Boston, New York, Boston, Newark, Seattle and Los Angeles.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-railroads-safety/u-s-urges-railroads-to-quickly-install-anti-crash-safety-system-idUSKBN1ER1O7

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 25, 2018, 05:38 PM

30. Amtrak engineer misread signal before fatal crash near Seattle: U.S. agency

Source: Reuters

#U.S. JANUARY 25, 2018 / 1:05 PM / UPDATED 3 HOURS AGO

Amtrak engineer misread signal before fatal crash near Seattle: U.S. agency

Reuters Staff
3 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Amtrak engineer aboard a passenger train that derailed last month in Washington state has told the National Transportation Safety Board he misread a signal and tried to brake before the crash that killed three people, the agency said on Thursday.

All 12 cars and one of two engines jumped the tracks at a curve on Dec. 18, sending some cars tumbling from a bridge onto an interstate highway near Seattle.

The NTSB this month said the crash, which also injured 70 people, could have been prevented if a safety technology system known as positive train control had been operational. It said the train was traveling at 79 miles per hour (126 km per hour) when it derailed, far above the 30 mph speed limit.

-snip-

The engineer told investigators he was aware that the curve with a 30 mph (48 kph) speed restriction was at milepost 19.8 of the track, and that he had planned to start braking about one mile (1.6 km) prior to the curve, the agency said. The engineer said he did not recall seeing milepost 18 or the 30 mph advance speed sign that was posted two miles (3.2 km) ahead of the speed-restricted curve, the NTSB said.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-washington-train/amtrak-engineer-misread-signal-before-fatal-crash-near-seattle-u-s-agency-idUSKBN1FE2NH

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Feb 2, 2018, 11:16 AM

31. Witnesses report 'issues' at crossing in Amtrak accident, NTSB says

Source: ABC News

Witnesses report 'issues' at crossing in Amtrak accident, NTSB says

By ERIN DOOLEY • Feb 1, 2018, 6:10 PM ET

Witnesses interviewed by the NTSB reported "issues" at the grade crossing where an Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers slammed into a garbage truck near Charlottesville, Virginia, NTSB officials confirmed today.

In the days leading up to the crash -- which killed one person and injured at least six -- the gates "weren't working right," a neighbor told ABC News. The gates would sometimes block the crossing for hours, even when a train was nowhere in sight, he said.

Buckingham Branch Railroad, the company responsible for track and signal maintenance, declined to comment on alleged malfunctions.

The NTSB hopes information from the lead locomotive's forward-facing camera, which has been transported to Washington, D.C., for download and evaluation, will shed light on what occurred at the crossing Wednesday.

-snip-


Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/witnesses-report-issues-crossing-amtrak-accident-ntsb/story?id=52767496

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Feb 4, 2018, 07:12 PM

32. South Carolina train crash: Amtrak 'on the wrong track'

Source: BBC

South Carolina train crash: Amtrak 'on the wrong track'

4 February 2018

An Amtrak train involved in a deadly crash with a stationary freight train in South Carolina appeared to be on the wrong track, the state governor says.

Officials will investigate whether points in the area misdirected the passenger train.

The Amtrak's engineer and conductor died and 116 people were injured in the crash early on Sunday.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the incident should "begin a conversation" about rail safety.

-snip-


Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42938148

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Feb 5, 2018, 11:33 AM

33. Locked switch blamed in fatal Amtrak crash

Source: Reuters

#U.S. FEBRUARY 5, 2018 / 6:41 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO

Locked switch blamed in fatal Amtrak crash

Reuters Staff
2 MIN READ

(Reuters) - A locked switch is being blamed for the collision between an Amtrak passenger train and a freight train that killed two people and injured more than 100 others in South Carolina early on Sunday.

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board said a switch on the tracks, which the freight hauler CSX Corp. owns and operates, was padlocked in a position that steered the Amtrak train onto a siding near Columbia, S.C., where it crashed into a parked, unoccupied CSX train.

“Key to this investigation is learning why the switch was lined that way,” Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the NTSB, told reporters at a news conference on Sunday. NTSB officials were not immediately available to elaborate.

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Richard Anderson told reporters Sunday that CSX was responsible for the wreck because of the locked switch. CSX officials were not available for comment.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-train-investigation/locked-switch-blamed-in-fatal-amtrak-crash-idUSKBN1FP1HL

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Feb 6, 2018, 07:54 PM

34. U.S. safety board blames two commuter crashes on sleep disorders

Source: Reuters

#U.S. FEBRUARY 6, 2018 / 1:53 PM / UPDATED 3 HOURS AGO

U.S. safety board blames two commuter crashes on sleep disorders

David Shepardson
4 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. investigative agency said on Tuesday that two New York City area commuter train crashes were the result of engineers with undiagnosed sleep disorders.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) criticized the lack of safety systems in both crashes that could have prevented the incidents blamed on fatigued engineers.

The board said two recent crashes had almost identical probable causes. A New Jersey Transit train crashed in a terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey, in September 2016, killing one person and injuring 110. In January, a Long Island Rail Road train crashed at the Atlantic Terminal in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, injuring 108 people.

Both engineers suffered from severe sleep apnea, which is characterized by shallow or interrupted breathing during sleep and can leave sufferers fatigued.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-train-crashes/u-s-safety-board-blames-two-commuter-crashes-on-sleep-disorders-idUSKBN1FQ2QM


Source: NTSB

NTSB News Release

Nearly Identical Probable Causes for 2 Commuter Rail Accidents Drive Safety Recommendations

2/6/2018

​Fatigue from Undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea Caused Both Accidents

WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2018) — The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday determined that two commuter railroad terminal accidents in the New York area were caused by engineer fatigue resulting from undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea.

The Sept. 29, 2016, accident on the New Jersey Transit railroad at Hoboken, New Jersey, killed one person, injured 110, and resulted in major damage to the station. The Jan. 4, 2017, accident on the Long Island Rail Road at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York, injured 108 people. Both accidents involved trains that struck end-of-track bumping posts and crashed into stations.

The NTSB found the two accidents had “almost identical” probable causes and safety issues. The board also determined that these safety issues were not unique to these two properties, but exist throughout the country at many intercity passenger and commuter passenger train terminals.

In a statement issued in August 2017 the NTSB expressed its “disappointment” with the withdrawal of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stating, “Obstructive sleep apnea has been in the probable cause of 10 highway and rail accidents investigated by the NTSB in the past 17 years … Medical fitness and fatigue, two of the NTSB’s 10 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements for 2017 – 2018, are tied to obstructive sleep apnea.”

“The traveling public deserves alert operators,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “That is not too much to ask.”

When operating a train into a terminating track, the engineer’s actions, or lack thereof, solely determine whether the train stops before the end of the track. According to the FRA there are currently no mechanisms installed in the U.S. that will automatically stop a train at the end of the track if the engineer is incapacitated, inattentive or disengaged. Some railroads have overspeed capabilities, including New Jersey Transit and the LIRR. However, as shown in these two accidents, once the engineer slowed the train to the prescribed speed, the system did not stop the trains before they reached the end of the track.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/MR20180206.aspx

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 01:29 PM

35. BNSF to {Continue Installation of PTC} as Part of Annual Capital Program

BNSF to Improve Flathead Tunnel as Part of Annual Capital Program

Railroad plans to spend $135 million on Montana network this year
BY JUSTIN FRANZ // FEB 13, 2018

BNSF Railway will invest $135 million on its Montana rail network this year, including a number of improvements to the 7-mile long Flathead Tunnel near Trego, the second longest railroad tunnel in the United States. ... The multi-million dollar investment in Montana is part of an overall $3.3 billion BNSF plans to spend in 2018 on its 32,500-mile network that stretches across 28 states and three provinces. The railroad operates on more than 1,900 miles of track in Montana.
....

The largest portion of the $135 million to be spent in Montana this year will go toward the replacement of rail, crossties and ballast, the main components of the tracks BNSF trains operate on. The railroad is also working on improvements to the ventilation system at Flathead Tunnel, a move that spokesperson Ross Lane said will help move trains through the area more efficiently.

The Flathead Tunnel was completed in 1970 after BNSF predecessor Burlington Northern had to reroute its rail line between Whitefish and Libby due to the construction of the Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa. The Flathead Tunnel is second only in length to BNSF’s Cascade Tunnel in western Washington. Today, approximately 50 freight trains a day travel through the area, as well as Amtrak’s Empire Builder. ... Because of the extreme length of the tunnel, a ventilation system is used to clear out locomotive exhaust between each train. Lane said it can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to clear the air to make it safe for both employees and passengers. If there is a power outage, the railroad relies on a generator but it can take twice as long to clear exhaust out of the tunnel, Lane said. ... “When the power goes out we can’t move as many trains,” Lane said.
....

The railroad also plans to upgrade its signal system on sections of track between Whitefish and Sandpoint, Idaho, known as the Kootenai River Subdivision. BNSF has invested approximately $850 million on its Montana network in the last five years. ... Elsewhere on the BNSF system, the railroad plans on spending $300 million on new freight cars and $100 million to continue installing positive train control, a technology system meant to prevent speed-related derailments and collisions. Lane said positive train control technology is already in use on BNSF’s main route across Montana and through the Flathead Valley. Congress mandated the installation of positive train control following a fatal passenger train head-on collision in California in 2008; railroads have until Dec. 31 of this year to install it on routes that host passenger trains or hazardous materials.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Feb 22, 2018, 04:50 AM

36. Truck was on tracks despite gates when struck by Amtrak train: U.S. report

Source: Reuters

U.S. FEBRUARY 21, 2018 / 1:10 PM / UPDATED 14 HOURS AGO

Truck was on tracks despite gates when struck by Amtrak train: U.S. report

Reuters Staff
2 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A garbage truck was on the tracks despite lowered safety gates when it was struck by a train carrying Republican lawmakers in a fatal crash last month in rural Virginia, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday.

Data from a camera mounted on the front of the chartered Amtrak train showed the gates were down at the crossing at the time of the crash, according to a preliminary NTSB report on the Jan. 31 accident.

The report added that “witnesses to the crash reported that the refuse truck entered the crossing after the gates were down.”

A passenger on the garbage truck was killed and two others on the truck were injured. No lawmakers were seriously injured but one lawmaker was taken to a hospital as a precaution and released.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-train/truck-was-on-tracks-despite-gates-when-struck-by-amtrak-train-u-s-report-idUSKCN1G52DD

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 08:29 AM

37. MBTA: A rail safety system gone badly off track

A rail safety system gone badly off track

By Andrea Estes Globe Staff April 14, 2018

Dean Walker’s license has been suspended 39 times for everything from driving to endanger to refusing a breathalyzer test. He’s been caught speeding 16 times and convicted of drunken driving twice. ... To fellow motorists, he’s a hazard. ... To the Registry of Motor Vehicles, he’s a chronic offender. ... But to Keolis, the MBTA’s commuter rail operator, Walker is something else entirely — an engineer. ... Despite his appalling driving history, Walker is entrusted with operating six-car trains, at speeds averaging 60 miles per hour, carrying hundreds of commuters to and from the city. ... Robert Ronquillo III, son of the chief justice of the Boston Municipal Court, was also penalized multiple times for safety violations on the job.

And he has plenty of company among his peers. About 110 commuter rail engineers, more than half of them, have driving records that experts described as poor considering the sensitive line of work they’re in — at least three infractions such as speeding, causing accidents, and failing to stop. ... Nearly 50 engineers have had their driver’s licenses suspended — 44 of them more than once, according to Registry of Motor Vehicle records reviewed by the Globe.

The engineers’ supervisors don’t set much of an example, either. Manager of engineer training Shawn Monahan, who teaches aspiring engineers what they need to know before they can operate a train, has received 11 speeding tickets and caused two accidents. ... Keolis’s head engineer, Mark Neverett, has 13 speeding tickets, eight accidents, and an operating under the influence on his driving record, though he’s had no recorded offenses since 2010.

The records obtained by the Globe, which span decades, raise serious concerns about safety on the commuter rail, experts say. Train operators aren’t required to have a driver’s license, and driving a 144-ton locomotive on fixed tracks is a very different discipline than driving a car. But a history of recklessness on the roads makes it much more likely someone will be reckless on the rails, they say.
....

Globe correspondent Matt Stout contributed to this report. Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea.estes@globe.com.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun May 20, 2018, 04:06 PM

38. FRA: We've got PTC funds available. Act now!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

FRA: We’ve got PTC funds available. Act now!

Written by William Vantuono

The Federal Railroad Administration on May 15 issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $250 million in Positive Train Control (PTC) Systems Grants.

The purpose of the NOFO is to solicit applications for $250 million in PTC Systems Grants to fund the deployment of PTC system technology for intercity passenger rail transportation, freight rail transportation and/or commuter rail passenger transportation. Eligible projects include back office systems; wayside, communications and onboard hardware equipment; software; equipment installation; spectrum; any component, testing and training for the implementation of PTC systems; and interoperability.

Applications for PTC systems deployment funding under this solicitation are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT, 45 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. These grants form part of the funding available under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.

In addition, the FRA released its 2018 Quarter 1 (Q1) status update on railroads' self-reported progress toward implementing PTC. "These reports were initiated by FRA to maintain transparency throughout the PTC implementation process," FRA said. ... Fourteen railroads report they have installed 100% of the hardware necessary for PTC system implementation, as of March 31, 2018. Railroads' self-reported data indicates that during Q1 2018, six other railroads—Altamont Corridor Express, Central Florida Rail Corridor (Sunrail), Conrail, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC), MTA Metro-North Railroad, and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-rail)—increased their percentage of hardware installation by more than 10%, compared to Q4 2017. ... The latest data, current as of March 31, shows PTC systems are in operation on approximately 60% of freight railroads route-miles required to be governed by PTC—up from 56% from Q4 2017 and 16% on Dec. 31, 2016. Passenger railroads have made less progress, with PTC systems in operation on 25% of required route miles, up 1% from the previous quarter.
....

PTC System Grants under the CRISI Program will be published in the Federal Register. To view the NOFO, visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L19510.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2018, 12:05 PM

39. Operation Lifesaver, Federal Railroad Administration award safety grants in 16 states

July 26, 2018 Class I, Commuter/Regional, Freight, High Performance, Intercity, Light Rail, M/W, News, Passenger, Rapid Transit, Regulatory, Safety, Short Lines & Regionals, Switching & Terminal

OLI, FRA award safety grants in 16 states

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age

Operation Lifesaver, Inc., organizations in 16 states have been awarded grants that will be used to fund a variety of crossing safety and trespass prevention education efforts. ... The grants, which were awarded in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), total more than $200,000 with individual awards ranging between $1,800 and $20,000. The grants will benefit OLI programs in Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and South Dakota.

“We must continue to target grade-crossing and trespasser deaths with an unrelenting commitment toward zero tolerance,” says FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “Educating the motoring and pedestrian public about how to be safe near railroad tracks is a never-ending task that will help reduce risk while enhancing safety.” ... OLI say the funds will support education projects being held in conjunction with Rail Safety Week, which will be observed in the U.S. and Canada from Sept. 23-29, 2018. The theme of this year’s Rail Safety Week is “Stop Track Tragedies.”

OLI Interim President Wende Corcoran said, “These grants, which fund innovative community outreach and education projects, are an important part of Operation Lifesaver’s ongoing rail safety efforts in 16 states across the U.S., in support of our mission to eliminate collisions, injuries and deaths at crossings and along rail property. We are grateful to our safety partners at the Federal Railroad Administration for their assistance, which will help raise public awareness of the need for safe behavior around tracks and trains.”

The state OLI recipients of the grants plan to use the funds for a variety of campaigns including television and radio advertising, geofencing campaigns, as well as various targeted campaigns based on geography, driving ability, occupation and other demographics. A full list of efforts can be found on OLI’s website. (1) ... Corcoran noted that the approved grants were awarded through a competitive process, with selection based on criteria such as successfully leveraging the federal funds with private partnerships, targeted messaging and the frequency of pedestrian-rail incidents and highway-rail collisions.

Categories: Class I, Commuter/Regional, Freight, High Performance, Intercity, Light Rail, M/W, News, Passenger, Rapid Transit, Regulatory, Safety, Short Lines & Regionals, Switching & Terminal
Tags: Breaking News, Federal Railroad Administration, Operation Lifesaver

(1) https://oli.org/

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Aug 29, 2018, 02:35 PM

40. FRA Awards More Than $200 Million for PTC Implementation

Passenger Trains > FRA awards PTC implementation grants

Date: 08/28/18 18:34
FRA awards PTC implementation grants
Author: illini73

Of interest to readers of this Board, the grants included $11 million to CALTRANS for design and installation of PTC at 30 control points and 111 intermediate signal locations on the Coast Line, Oakland to San Luis Obispo, CA; and $30 million to Rio Metro for PTC implementation on the New Mexico Rail Runner Express line betwee Belen and Santa Fe, NM.

Full list is here: FRA PTC Implementation Grants

The FRA finished the entire application/selection process for these grants in only 49 days. This round represents about $204 million out of the $250 million available; another round of applications for the remaining $46 million will be solicited by the FRA very soon.

FRA Awards More Than $200 Million for PTC Implementation

Friday, August 24, 2018

WASHINGTON
– The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today awarded $203,698,298 in grant funding for 28 projects in 15 states to assist with the deployment of positive train control (PTC) systems.

“These $200 million in grants will help the railroads continue to implement positive train control, a technology that could help reduce accidents and save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

FRA is making awards to 28 projects for a total of $203 million of the $250 million specifically appropriated under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 for the implementation of PTC systems, via the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $250 million in PTC Systems Grants was issued in May, and applications under that solicitation were due on July 2.

In an effort to assist railroads as they work towards fulfilling the Congressional PTC mandate, the U.S. Department of Transportation focused its resources on releasing these important funds in an expeditious manner. The application review and selection process was completed in 49 days, in order to award these funds in advance of the December 31, 2018 deadline.

In addition, FRA expects in the coming days to issue a second NOFO soliciting applications for PTC systems deployment projects based on the balance of the $250 million that remained after today’s awards were announced. Applications for the $46,301,702 under this second solicitation will be due 30 days after the NOFO is published in the Federal Register.
....

More about PTC systems can be found at the following link: https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0358.

Updated: Friday, August 24, 2018

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Sep 10, 2018, 03:14 PM

41. The State of Positive Train Control Implementation in the United States

This Thursday at 9 AM (ET), we will hear from a panel of govt and transportation officials on the status of PTC implementation. More info at https://buff.ly/2x7qzuL - witnesses, background memo, and livestream link.



Hearing

The State of Positive Train Control Implementation in the United States

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

This Thursday at 9 AM (ET), we will hear from a panel of govt and transportation officials on the status of PTC implementation. More info at https://buff.ly/2x7qzuL - witnesses, background memo, and livestream link.

https://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=402771

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

Background Information

Witnesses:
• The Honorable Ronald L. Batory, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
• The Honorable Robert Sumwalt, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
• Ms. Susan A. Fleming, Director, Physical Infrastructure Team, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
• Mr. Scot Naparstek, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Amtrak
• The Honorable Edward Hamberger, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of American Railroads
• Mr. Jeffrey D. Knueppel, P.E., General Manager, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; on behalf of American Public Transportation Association
• Ms. Stacey Mortensen, Executive Director, Altamont Corridor Express

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Oct 9, 2018, 03:36 PM

42. NTSB issues report on the Amtrak Chester PA crash

Passenger Trains > NTSB report on the Amtrak Chester PA crash

Date: 10/08/18 07:32
NTSB report on the Amtrak Chester PA crash
Author: Lackawanna484

Train 89 was routed down a previously closed track, killing two veteran MW employees.

Redundant and automatic protection for guys on the ground, including shunting devices is recommended


https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/RSR1803.aspx

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Oct 20, 2018, 04:08 PM

43. 1 dead, 1 missing in Union Pacific train crash in Wyoming

This isn't new, but I don't think the story got posted at DU.

1 dead, 1 missing in Union Pacific train crash in Wyoming

Shane Sanderson shane.sanderson@trib.com Oct 5, 2018



Rail cars are strewn about Friday in a sparsely populated area about 18 miles west of Cheyenne, Wyo., after a freight train crashed into the back of another freight train the night before. The crashed killed at least one crew member with another missing and derailing more than 50 train cars.

Jacob Richard Byk, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle

A Union Pacific worker died Thursday evening in a train crash west of Cheyenne. A second worker remained missing Friday.

The crash happened at 7:45 p.m. when an eastbound train hit a second, stopped train 18 miles west of Wyoming's capital city, according to the Cheyenne Mayor's Office.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said Friday that local emergency response agencies and Union Pacific workers were still looking for the missing person. She declined to offer details about the missing person. ... "It is a very sad day for Union Pacific," she said.

The spokeswoman said the wreck occurred when a moving train hit the rear of a stopped train, both of which were eastbound. Espinoza said an investigation would determine why the train had stopped, among other things.
....

Train Derailment In Laramie County – UPDATE

Kevin Knapp, Outliers News POSTED ON OCTOBER 9, 2018

UPDATE 10/9: The body of a railroad employee listed as missing after last week’s derailment in Laramie County has been recovered.

The Union Pacific Railroad released a written statement to KGAB-AM, which reads as follows:

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the loss of two Union Pacific employees involved in the tragic accident that occurred in Laramie County on Thursday, October 4. Employee Jason Martinez, originally reported as missing after the accident, was fatally injured. His body was recovered Saturday. Benjamin Brozovich was also fatally injured in the accident. Words cannot express our sorrow, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.”

{The rest is the original story.}

According to the Associated Press, a “catastrophic” train derailment has occurred in Laramie County.

{snip}

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2018, 04:56 PM

44. APNewsBreak: US miscalculated benefit of better train brakes

Source: Associated Press

APNewsBreak: US miscalculated benefit of better train brakes

By MATTHEW BROWN
December 20, 2018

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s administration miscalculated the potential benefits of putting better brakes on trains that haul explosive fuels when it scrapped an Obama-era rule over cost concerns, The Associated Press has found.

A government analysis used by the administration to justify the cancellation omitted up to $117 million in estimated future damages from train derailments that could be avoided by using electronic brakes. Revelation of the error stoked renewed criticism Thursday from the rule’s supporters who called the analysis biased.

Department of Transportation officials acknowledged the mistake after it was discovered by the AP during a review of federal documents but said it does not change their decision not to install the brakes.

Safety advocates, transportation union leaders and Democratic lawmakers oppose the administration’s decision to kill the brake rule, which was included in a package of rail safety measures enacted in 2015 under President Barack Obama following dozens of accidents by trains hauling oil and ethanol in the U.S. and Canada.

-snip-


Read more: https://apnews.com/2e91c7211b4947de8837ebeda53080b9

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Mar 22, 2019, 12:01 AM

45. Truck driver involved in crash with Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers had marijuana and a prescrip

Source: Washington Post

Truck driver involved in crash with Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers had marijuana and a prescription drug in his system, NTSB says

The trash truck went around safety barriers and into the path of the train, according to a preliminary report from investigators.

By Ashley Halsey III March 21 at 5:19 PM

The driver of a trash truck who authorities said went around the barrier at a railroad crossing and into the path of an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat had marijuana and a prescription drug in his system, the National Transportation Safety Board said this week.

The NTSB has not released its final report on January 2018 crash near Crozet, Va., but it posted a probable cause report on the agency’s website that said ​it was “the truck driver’s decision to enter an active grade crossing and his inaction when he encountered obstacles while attempting to cross the railroad tracks, most likely due to his impairment from the combined effects of the drugs marijuana and gabapentin.”

Gabapentin is a prescription drug used to treat mood an anxiety disorders.

A grand jury last year indicted the driver, Dana W. Naylor Jr., on one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of maiming another while driving under the influence, A co-worker of Naylor’s who was riding in the truck was killed and several lawmakers were injured in the crash. A jury last month found Naylor not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

-snip-


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2019/03/21/truck-driver-involved-crash-with-amtrak-train-carrying-gop-lawmakers-had-marijuana-prescription-drug-his-system-ntsb-says/

______________________________________________________________________

Source: National Transportation Safety Board

Highway Accident Brief: Collision Between Passenger Train and Refuse Truck at Active Grade Crossing, Crozet, Virginia

Executive Summary

​On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, about 11:16 a.m., a 2018 Freightliner refuse truck operated by Time Disposal, LLC, was traveling south on Lanetown Road near Crozet, Virginia. The truck was occupied by a 30-year-old driver and two passengers, who were en route to help another crew collect refuse. The truck’s route required traversing a highway–railroad grade crossing on Lanetown Road, at railroad milepost 195.85 of the Buckingham Branch Railroad (BBR). The grade crossing is located on a curved segment of the track and is equipped with an active warning system consisting of flashing warning lights, bells, and gate arms that lower at a train’s approach.


Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the crash in Crozet, Virginia, was the truck driver’s decision to enter an active grade crossing and his inaction when he encountered obstacles while attempting to cross the railroad tracks, most likely due to his impairment from the combined effects of the drugs marijuana and gabapentin. Contributing to the severity of the injuries was the lack of seat belt use by the truck occupants.


https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/HAB1903.aspx

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Mar 25, 2019, 04:37 PM

46. Amtrak Struggles to Screen Workers for Drug, Alcohol Abuse, Report Finds

I'll see if I can get more than this.

Amtrak Struggles to Screen Workers for Drug, Alcohol Abuse, Report Finds
Inspector General’s report finds major flaws in substance-abuse testing system

By Ted Mann
Updated March 14, 2019 1:52 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Hundreds of Amtrak employees have slipped past the railroad’s drug and alcohol testing regime in recent years, a new report says, even as the railroad’s management has pledged to tighten screening in the wake of a fatal 2016 crash.

A review by Amtrak’s inspector general, released Thursday, found that the railroad had faulty databases for the more than 6,000 “safety-sensitive” employees it is required to screen for drug and alcohol use under federal rules. Its record-keeping system for testing data—a paper form—sometimes...

TO READ THE FULL STORY
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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Mar 28, 2019, 12:25 PM

47. Positive train control fully activated on Amtrak Cascades corridor, Washington State DOT says

Hat tip, Trainorders:

Passenger Trains > "Positive train control fully activated on Amtrak Cascades corri"

Positive train control fully activated on Amtrak Cascades corridor, WSDOT says
By: KIRO 7 News Staff

Updated: Mar 25, 2019 - 1:10 PM

The Washington State Department of Transportation announced Monday that positive train control (PTC) is fully active for the Amtrak Cascades corridor, which incorporates the Point Defiance Bypass.

The Point Defiance Bypass is the section of track where an Amtrak train derailed heading into a sharp curve on an overpass in Dupont. Train 501 was on its maiden run on December 18, 2017, leaving Tacoma.

PTC is the train speed-control technology that possibly could have prevented the derailment from happening along the Point Defiance Bypass. PTC automatically slows or stops trains that are making improper movements, speeding, or not where they are supposed to be, WSDOT said.

The Amtrak train was recorded going 78 mph, more than double the posted speed of 30 mph, when 12 cars and two engines jumped the tracks.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2019, 09:18 AM

48. New safety system launch causes some delays for Virginia Railway Express

Home » Transportation News » New safety system launch…
New safety system launch causes some delays for VRE
By Max Smith | @amaxsmith
April 10, 2019 4:14 am



Positive Train Control — a system that can slow or stop trains going too fast or approaching another train on the tracks ahead — expanded to all Fredericksburg Line trains last month. (Courtesy Virginia Railway Express via Twitter)

Virginia Railway Express partially blames the roll out of a new safety system for a number of recent delays. ... Positive Train Control — a system that can slow or stop trains going too fast or approaching another train on the tracks ahead — was first fully activated for a VRE train on the Federicksburg Line Feb. 14. Last month, it was expanded to all Fredericksburg Line trains. ... Last week, the first Manassas Line train activated the safety feature.

While staff was trained on the safety feature, it can still take several trips for train crews to get used to, VRE said. This has led to slower than usual operations, even with a help line. ... “We will continue to roll out PTC on the remaining Manassas line trains this week and work with our host railroads to minimize conditions in our service area that result in delays to VRE trains,” VRE said.

The delays are in addition to VRE mechanical issues that remain under investigation and other issues related to freight trains. VRE operates on tracks controlled by freight rail companies. The Manassas Line also runs on tracks owned by Norfolk Southern. ... State officials are talking with CSX, Amtrak and VRE about ways to improve schedules to provide better service for all three.

“We need to look at the schedules of Amtrak, VRE and the freight railroads to see if there are some efficiencies and time savings and things that could improve the customer service as well rather than just throwing a train out there just to sit behind another train,” said Michael McLaughlin, chief of rail transportation with the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. ... Just adding a single new Amtrak train from Norfolk to D.C. through Richmond took weeks of discussions, he told the Commonwealth Transportation Board Tuesday, because of the ripple effects on crowded tracks over the Potomac River and at Union Station.
....

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Apr 11, 2019, 10:44 AM

49. Trump proposes new FRA regulations on transport of LNG by rail

EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Executive Order on Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Issued on: April 10, 2019

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
....

Sec. 4. Safety Regulations. (a) The Department of Transportation’s safety regulations for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities, found in 49 CFR Part 193 (Part 193), apply uniformly to small-scale peakshaving, satellite, temporary, and mobile facilities, as well as to large-scale import and export terminals. Driven by abundant supplies of domestic natural gas, new LNG export terminals are in various stages of development, and these modern, large-scale liquefaction facilities bear little resemblance to the small peakshaving facilities common during the original drafting of Part 193 nearly 40 years ago. To achieve the policies set forth in subsection 2(b) of this order, the Secretary of Transportation shall initiate a rulemaking to update Part 193 and shall finalize such rulemaking no later than 13 months after the date of this order. In developing the proposed regulations, the Secretary of Transportation shall use risk-based standards to the maximum extent practicable.

(b) In the United States, LNG may be transported by truck and, with approval by the Federal Railroad Administration, by rail in United Nations portable tanks, but Department of Transportation regulations do not authorize LNG transport in rail tank cars. The Secretary of Transportation shall propose for notice and comment a rule, no later than 100 days after the date of this order, that would treat LNG the same as other cryogenic liquids and permit LNG to be transported in approved rail tank cars. The Secretary shall finalize such rulemaking no later than 13 months after the date of this order.
....

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Apr 12, 2019, 04:25 PM

51. Federal Officials Order New Safety Measures to Help Protect Railroad Workers Near Tracks

Federal Officials Order New Safety Measures to Help Protect Railroad Workers Near Tracks

Federal Railroad Administration to expand alcohol- and drug-testing regulations to include track-maintenance workers

By Ted Mann
ted.mann@wsj.com
@TMannWSJ

Updated May 27, 2016 3:21 p.m. ET

Federal railroad officials on Friday ordered new safety measures and expanded drug testing for work crews, following a spate of train accidents, such as one that killed two track workers nearly eight weeks ago.

The Federal Railroad Administration ordered additional protective measures for work crews on or near active railroad tracks, including requiring safeguards such as the use of equipment that can serve as a second line of defense to prevent collisions between workers and trains.

The agency also expanded its existing drug- and alcohol-testing program,—already in place for engineers and dispatchers—to include track maintenance workers such as those killed in an April 3 crash in Chester, Pa., when a train killed a worker and a supervisor when it struck them and a backhoe they were using on an adjacent track.

Some of Friday’s rule changes were first proposed years ago. The rules incorporate some updates mandated by Congress in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Let's go get more about that final rule right now.

Control of Alcohol and Drug Use: Coverage of Maintenance of Way (MOW)
27
May
2016

AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration

DOCKET NUMBER: Docket No. FRA-2009-0039, Notice No. 3

ABSTRACT: In response to Congress’ mandate in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), FRA is expanding the scope of its drug and alcohol regulation to cover MOW employees. This rule also codifies guidance from FRA compliance manuals, responds to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations, and adopts substantive amendments based upon FRA’s regulatory review of 30 years of implementation of this part. The final rule contains two significant differences from FRA’s July 28, 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (79 FR 48380). First, it adopts part 214’s definition of “roadway worker” to define “MOW employee” under this part. Second, because FRA has withdrawn its proposed peer support requirements, subpart K contains a revised version of the troubled employee identification requirements previously in subpart E.

Control of Alcohol and Drug Use: Coverage of Maintenance of Way (MOW) Employees and Retrospective Regulatory Review-Based Amendments

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Apr 18, 2019, 01:34 PM

52. 50 years later, lifesaving technology that could have saved over 300 lives inches toward completion.

I might have some disagreements with the article. I haven't gone through it yet.

Hat tip, Greater Greater Washington:

This lifesaving train tech is a long time coming
Positive Train Control, or PTC, keeps trains from running into each other and guarantees they go around curves at a safe speed. Fifty years after a Connecticut train wreck that could have been prevented with the tech, PTC could finally be installed in many systems around the US by the end of 2020. (Ashley Halsey III / Post)

Transportation
Fifty years later, a lifesaving technology that could have saved over 300 lives inches toward completion

By Ashley Halsey III
April 17 at 7:04 PM

On an August evening in 1969, a Connecticut train wreck made history. A pair of passenger trains in Darien collided head-on, killing five people and injuring 35.

It was the first train wreck on record that could have been prevented by what now is known as positive train control, or PTC. Almost 50 years later, the system that might have saved the five people from death — and more than 300 people who have died in train wrecks since then — is in full operation by just four of the nation’s 41 railroads.

“In the course of 50 years we have investigated 150 PTC preventable accidents that have caused 303 fatalities and 6,800 injuries,” said Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board. “I would have liked to have seen more progress, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.”

Complex in its design, PTC is simple in its intent. It keeps trains from running into each other. And it guarantees they round curves at a safe speed. ... Fifty years ago, PTC was a concept in search of a name, and after the Darien wreck the NTSB suggested that the Federal Railroad Administration “study the feasibility of requiring a form of automatic train control.”

In more recent years, the list of PTC-preventable train wrecks includes:

• 2013: The Metro-North crash in the Bronx killed four people and injured 61.

• 2015: An Amtrak wreck in Philadelphia left eight passengers dead and injured 185.

• 2017: An Amtrak derailment near Dupont, Wash., killed three people and injured 62.

• 2018: Another Amtrak train rammed a stationary freight train in Cayce, S.C., killed two crew members and injured 116 others.

....

Read more:

Untangling the train wrecks: Congress holds yet another hearing on its mandate to end what’s causing most of them

House plans hearing on progress of train safety device that could prevent hundreds of deaths

NTSB says train that wrecked was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone
....

Ashley Halsey reports on national transportation, including infrastructure, aviation, autonomous cars and shipping. Follow https://twitter.com/ashleyhalsey3rd

This was the first comment (of four) as I posted:

Former College DJ 2 hours ago

Let me preface my comments by saying implementing PTC on the rail network is better than not having it. But PTC or PTC-like technologies, in addition to being very expensive to implement, are themselves are not a panacea; the technology can fail. Look at the June 2009 WMATA Red Line crash that killed nine people - a PTC-like technology was used on the rail line, yet that technology didn't work at a critical time. To this day, nearly 10 years later, WMATA is reluctant to operate trains in automatic mode because of their fears the automated train control technology will fail again. What if PTC fails at some point in the system? Are rail system operators or more accurately governments going to be reluctant to rely on PTC?

In addition to the above, it should be noted 300 fatalities over 50 years is not a large number of fatalities. Many, MANY more people have been killed by cars while crossing the street, or by being involved in motor vehicle accidents on U.S. roadways between two or more motor vehicles, or by intentional or accidental gun deaths. The benefits of implementing PTC have to be weighed against the costs, and the number of lives saved by implementing other accident prevention or reduction measures.

{edited to add this comment}

kurt topel 19 hours ago

Agreed. Under ANY reasonable cost-benefit analysis PTC is not justified, and yet the 2008 Chatsworth crash referred to above spurred Congress to pass the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which included the mandating of PTC. The 25 lost lives were a terrible loss, especially to those 25 families. However, 25 people die EVERY TWO WEEKS trespassing on rights-of-way.
The fatalities which PTC is designed to save amount to only 4% of total rail fatalities (employees and passengers). The OVERWHELMING number of rail fatalities happen to people trespassing on the right of way (72%). One cannot find how much either government or industry spends keeping people off the tracks, but it is very little. Of course, trespassers shouldn’t be on the rights-of-way, but neither should drivers and pedestrians who race the train, or stop on the tracks, or any other risky behavior at highway-rail crossings. Still, both Congress and the industry spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year making crossings safer for the remaining 16% of fatalities.
If one analyzes the effectiveness of railroad safety spending (especially at crossings) it is obvious that investment can reduce fatalities significantly. Yes, derailments are spectacular as well as tragic, but they are thankfully very rare. Let’s start focusing our attention and money where we can make a significant improvement in fatalities by targeting the installation of fencing, investing in detection technology, and subsidizing local law enforcement to prevent deaths to people on the railroad rights of way.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Sep 14, 2019, 12:45 AM

53. Jury awards $17M to 3 plaintiffs in deadly Amtrak derailment

Source: Associated Press

Jury awards $17M to 3 plaintiffs in deadly Amtrak derailment

September 13, 2019

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A federal jury has awarded three people who sued over a deadly Amtrak derailment in Washington state nearly $17 million for their pain and suffering.

An eight-person jury in U.S. District Court in Tacoma decided Friday to award $7.75 million to Dale Skyllingstad, $7 million to Blaine Wilmotte and $2 million to his wife, Madison Wilmotte.

On Dec. 18, 2017, Amtrak’s first paid passenger run on a new route from Tacoma to Portland, Oregon, plunged onto Interstate 5 near DuPont, killing three people and injuring more than 60 others. Amtrak admitted liability before trial, and the jury heard evidence for two weeks on the damages and effect on the plaintiffs.

Skyllingstad was a passenger on the train when his railcar left the tracks after the train approached a 30-mph (48-kph) curve going 78 mph (126 kph). His attorneys said he broke his back, fractured his hip and suffered a traumatic brain injury that Skyllingstad said has changed his personality.

-snip-

In June, the National Transportation Safety Board published its final report on the crash, with the agency’s vice chairman blasting what he described as a “Titanic-like complacency” among those charged with ensuring safe train operations.

-snip-


Read more: https://apnews.com/89170e31e8f742e88b4b783fc36306c8

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Sep 30, 2019, 04:25 PM

54. NTSB releases accident report on February 2018 Amtrak -- CSX head-on collision in South Carolina

I'm on the NTSB listserv.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a Railroad Accident Report ​on the February 4, 2018, head-on collision between an Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) train and a stationary CSX Transportation Corporation local freight train in Cayce, South Carolina.

Amtrak Passenger Train Head-on Collision With Stationary CSX Freight Train

Executive Summary

​On February 4, 2018, about 2:27 a.m. local time, southbound Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) train P91, operating on a track warrant, was diverted from the main track through a reversed hand-throw switch into a track and collided head-on with a stationary CSX Transportation Corporation (CSX) local freight train F777. The accident occurred on CSX’s Florence Division, Columbia Subdivision in Cayce, South Carolina.

The engineer and conductor of the Amtrak train died because of the collision. Ninety-one passengers and crewmembers on the Amtrak train were transported to medical facilities. The engineer of the stopped CSX train had exited the lead locomotive before the Amtrak train entered the track. When he saw that it was entering the track, he ran to safety and was not injured. The conductor on the CSX lead locomotive saw the Amtrak train approaching on the track and ran to the back of the locomotive. The conductor was thrown off the locomotive and sustained minor injuries. Damage was estimated at $25.4 million.

The normal method of operation on this segment of track was by wayside signal indications of a traffic control system. On the day prior to the accident, CSX signal personnel began upgrading signal system components to implement positive train control on the subdivision. Signal personnel ceased work for the day at 7:00 p.m., prior to completing planned work. The signal suspension remained in place resulting in the continued use of track warrants to move trains through the affected area of signal suspension.

At the time of the accident, it was dark, and the sky was cloudy. The temperature was 40°F, and there was light wind from the east.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause of this collision of trains was the failure of the CSX Transportation Corporation to assess and mitigate the risk associated with operating through a signal suspension, which eliminated system redundancy for detecting a switch in the wrong position. The CSX Transportation Corporation conductor failed to properly reposition the switch for the main track, which allowed National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train P91 to be routed onto the Silica Storage track where the standing CSX train F777 was located. Contributing to the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration’s failure to implement effective regulation to mitigate the risk of misaligned switch accidents. Also contributing to the accident was National Railroad Passenger Corporation’s (Amtrak) failure to conduct a risk assessment prior to operating during a signal suspension.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon May 18, 2020, 04:21 PM

55. Brake Defects Plague Canada's Aging Grain Cars

May 15, 2020 Class I, Freight, Freight Cars, Mechanical, News, Regulatory, Safety

Brake Defects Plague Canada’s Aging Grain Cars

Written by David Thomas, Canadian Contributing Editor

Hard-to-detect braking system defects have rendered Canada’s aging fleet of grain hoppers a safety hazard, says a former director of derailment investigations for the country’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB), the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. NTSB. Ian Naish, who retired from the TSB in 2009, in a CBC interview posted May 15, declared, “The grain car fleet overall is quite defective.”

Naish’s warning followed his former employer’s Rail Safety Advisory Letter dated April 20, 2020, which said that the standard visual inspection of brake pipe connections and piston applications—the so-called “Number 1 Test” performed by car inspectors prior to trains departing originating yards—is unreliable and does not reveal a high percentage of malfunctioning railcar brakes.

The TSB advisory emerged from the agency’s continuing investigation into a Feb. 4 , 2019 runaway and triple-fatality derailment of a Canadian Pacific grain train descending the steep grade connecting the Spiral Tunnels near Field, B.C. The investigation found that the train had passed the Number 1 test at Calgary’s Alyth Yard the day before, indicating that at least 95% of the train’s 112 grain cars had intact rigging and normal piston travel under the application and release of brake pipe air pressure.

As TSB noted, “The actual brake force or its effect is not physically measured.” In other words, the Number 1 brake test verifies connectivity and piston travel, but says nothing about the actual braking power of shoes against wheel treads. The brake may visually appear to be functioning when it is in fact applying little stopping pressure.

The discrepancy between a passing grade on physical inspection and true brake performance was spotlighted back in 2016 in joint research by the TSB, CP and the National Research Council. The tests measured the temperature of each wheel in a train after a long descending grade requiring prolonged brake applications. Warm wheels indicated properly functioning brakes; cold wheels the opposite. There was a wide variation between visual inspection passes and actual brake energy conversion, as measured by trackside sensors in ATBE (Automated Train Brake Effectiveness) testing. CP has been involved in implementation and testing of ATBE since 2011, according to a report from the International Railway Safety Council.

In a comparison of inspection methods comprising 44 grain trains, the automated temperature checks “identified 695 cars with ineffective brakes, while the No. 1 brake test identified 5 cars; a 139:1 ratio.”

{snip}

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 11:03 AM

56. FRA "Highly Pleased" With 98.8% PTC Implementation

August 12, 2020

FRA “Highly Pleased” With 98.8% PTC Implementation

Written by Andrew Corselli, Managing Editor



The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s second-quarter 2020 update on railroads’ self-reported progress on fully implementing Positive Train Control (PTC) by the Dec. 31, 2020 deadline shows that, as of June 30, 2020, the job is 98.8% complete. Nearly all railroads subject to the statutory mandate are operating their systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), with PTC technology remaining to be activated on only approximately 700 required route-miles.

As of June 30, PTC systems were in RSD or in operation on approximately 56,846 of the 57,537 route-miles subject to the mandate. This represents a 0.7% point increase since 1Q20 and indicates that PTC technology was activated on an additional 305 miles during 2Q. As previously reported, PTC systems are currently governing operations on all PTC-mandated main lines owned or controlled by Class I railroads and other freight host railroads. As of June 30, 76.1% of commuter railroads’ mandated route miles were governed by PTC technology—a 12.9% point increase since the last quarter.

In addition, as of June 30, host railroads reported that interoperability has been achieved by 65.5% of the 220 applicable, host-tenant railroad relationships—a 17% point increase since 1Q20.



{snip}

Infographics depicting railroads’ progress toward fully implementing PTC systems as of June 30 can be found here. The public version of each railroad’s Quarterly PTC Progress Report for 2Q20 can be found here.

{snip}

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 11:07 AM

57. Amtrak Completes PTC Implementation

August 13, 2020

Amtrak Completes PTC Implementation

Written by Andrew Corselli, Managing Editor

Following installation on approximately one mile of slow-speed track in the Chicago terminal, Amtrak has now implemented Positive Train Control (PTC) on all of its owned or controlled tracks and locomotives.

Amtrak said it’s “continuing to work with partners throughout the industry to advance this system on host infrastructure. Amtrak is also working with tenant railroads (such as NJ Transit) that operate over Amtrak’s infrastructure to complete interoperability testing and says it “is on target for all tenant trains to be operating with PTC before the federal mandate.”



Amtrak PTC Implementation by the Numbers

To date, Amtrak has made progress implementing PTC across the routes and equipment it controls for the following:

• All 550 Amtrak-owned locomotives are fully equipped and PTC operable.
• All 11 installation/track segments completed.
• All 160 radio towers fully installed and equipped.
• All employees who require training to support PTC operations have completed training.
• 898 of 898 route-miles are in PTC operation.

{snip}

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 11:14 AM

58. Department of Transportation issues new rules on shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail

Last edited Fri Aug 21, 2020, 07:18 AM - Edit history (1)

Hat tip, Joe.My.God. A little bit sensationalistic by my standards, but it's what I have.


AGs, enviros warn of 'bomb trains' in new lawsuits over shipping LNG by rail

8/18/20 REUTERS LEGAL 19:43:48 • Copyright (c) 2020 Thomson Reuters • Sebastien Malo

REUTERS LEGAL • August 18, 2020

(Reuters) - Sixteen attorneys general and a coalition of six environmental groups separately sued the Trump administration on Tuesday in Washington D.C. federal appeals court over a rule that would allow the transportation by rail of explosive liquefied natural gas, arguing that the measure would be dangerous and could destroy cities.

In this first lawsuit, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit over the U.S. Department of Transportation rule scheduled to take effect next week, alleging that it violates the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

A lawsuit filed shortly thereafter by Democratic attorneys general from Maryland, California, New York and 13 other states also alleges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

The DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published on July 24 a finalized version of the new measure, an amendment of the Hazardous Materials Regulations that allows for the bulk nationwide transportation of liquefied natural gas in rail tank cars for first time ever, said Earthjustice attorney Jordan Luebkemann. The rule is slated to take effect on Aug. 24.

To transport natural gas, the substance must be converted to liquid form. Liquefied natural gas is flammable, odorless, and highly hazardous. Derailments of less explosive substances like crude oil have caused serious explosions, the environmental groups say.

{snip}

Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail

A Rule by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on 07/24/2020

AGENCY:

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

PHMSA, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), is amending the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to allow for the bulk transport of “Methane, refrigerated liquid,” commonly known as liquefied natural gas (LNG), in rail tank cars. This rulemaking authorizes the transportation of LNG by rail in DOT-113C120W specification rail tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements, subject to all applicable requirements and certain additional operational controls. The enhancements to the outer tank are indicated by the new specification suffix “9” (DOT-113C120W9).

DATES:

Effective date: This rule is effective August 24, 2020.

Voluntary compliance date: Voluntary compliance is authorized July 24, 2020.

{snip}

I. Overview

In this final rule, PHMSA is authorizing the transportation of LNG by rail tank car, pursuant to Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation law (Federal hazmat law; 49 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.), because we have determined that bulk rail transport is a safe alternative for this energy product. The final rule authorizes the transportation of LNG by rail in DOT-113 tank cars, which have an established track record of safety in transporting other cryogenic flammable materials. The DOT-113 tank car authorized for LNG service will be enhanced with an outer tank that is thicker and made of steel with a greater puncture resistance to provide an added measure of safety and crashworthiness. Additionally, there will be operational controls in the form of enhanced braking requirements, remote Start Printed Page 44995monitoring, and route analysis, which are intended to exceed current safety requirements for other flammable cryogenic materials.

PHMSA's mission is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy products and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives. To do this, the agency establishes national policy, sets and enforces standards, conducts research to prevent incidents, and prepares the public and first responders to reduce consequences if an incident does occur. PHMSA and FRA share responsibility for regulating the transportation of hazardous materials by rail and take a system-wide, comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention, mitigation, and response to manage and reduce the risk posed to people and the environment. In line with PHMSA's mission and shared responsibility with FRA for oversight of the rail transport of hazardous materials, PHMSA is issuing this final rule to authorize the transportation of LNG by rail in DOT-113C120W specification rail tank cars with enhanced outer tank material and thickness (those enhancements to be indicated by the specification suffix “9”), subject to operational controls for braking, monitoring, and route analysis.

This authorization conforms to the intent and purpose of the HMR (49 CFR parts 171-180), which are designed to ensure the safe transportation of all hazardous materials packagings (including tank cars). Collectively, the HMR combine packaging design and maintenance, operational controls, package handling, employee training, hazard communication, emergency response information, and security plan requirements to safeguard transportation. These measures help ensure that hazardous contents safely remain within a package during the course of transportation while also providing for public awareness and appropriate response mechanisms. Supplemental to the HMR, PHMSA oversees a Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grant program that provides funding to the emergency response community for training and planning purposes, furthering appropriate response efforts.

The United States leverages domestic technology improvements to transform American life through increased natural gas production and energy independence. As a result, the United States is today the world's largest natural gas producer through economical production from shale and other unconventional formations. Transportation of natural gas, however, can be constrained by the capacity of existing transportation infrastructure, which negatively affects regions with insufficient access to pipelines or ports. This constraint on capacity, coupled with increased natural gas production in the United States, has resulted in the consideration of using rail transport to help efficiently deliver natural gas to domestic U.S. and international markets.

Authorizing the use of proven DOT-113C120W-specification tank cars to transport LNG will allow the rail industry to play a role in the safe, efficient transport of this important energy product for the 21st century. LNG—referred to as “Methane, refrigerated liquid”  within the HMR—has been transported safely by trucks on highways and by marine vessels for over 40 years in the United States, and over 50 years internationally. However, the HMR did not authorize the bulk transport of LNG in rail tank cars prior to this rulemaking action, instead permitting rail transport of LNG only on an ad hoc basis as authorized by the conditions of a PHMSA special permit (49 CFR 107.105) or in a portable tank secured to a rail car pursuant to the conditions of an FRA approval. The recent expansion in U.S. natural gas production has increased interest in a programmatic approach to using appropriately the nation's rail infrastructure to facilitate efficient transportation of LNG. In response to that interest, PHMSA, in coordination with the FRA, issues this final rule to amend the HMR to permit the bulk transport of LNG in DOT-113C120W specification rail tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements (those enhancements to be indicated by the specification suffix “9”), subject to operational controls for braking, monitoring, and routing.

In addition, this final rule satisfies the directive in Executive Order (E.O.) 13868 [84 FR 15495, April 19, 2019] to propose, consistent with applicable law, regulations that “treat LNG the same as other cryogenic liquids and permit LNG to be transported in approved rail tank cars.”  E.O. 13868 recognizes the leading role that the United States plays in producing natural gas, the importance of improving the United States' capacity to supply natural gas, including LNG, to domestic and international markets, and the need to continue to transport this energy product in a safe and efficient manner. In issuing this final rule, PHMSA furthers the purposes and policies set forth in E.O. 13868 by enabling an additional safe, reliable, and efficient transportation alternative for bringing domestically produced natural gas to existing, and potentially new, markets.

The present action is based on a longstanding understanding of the properties of LNG and an evidence-based approach to the safety of the DOT-113 tank cars designed and used to transport flammable cryogenic materials. At the same time, in promulgating this final rule, and as it does with other hazardous materials, PHMSA recognizes that there is ongoing and potential future research related to the transportation of LNG by all modes. The Agency will continue to use this research to inform potential future regulatory activity, as appropriate.

In the following table, PHMSA provides an overview of: (1) The requirements for LNG transportation in tank cars pursuant to DOT Special Permit 20534 (DOT-SP 20534), issued to Energy Transport Solutions, LLC (ETS) during the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)  comment period to authorize ETS's rail transportation of LNG along specific routes; (2) the requirements proposed in the October 24, 2019 NPRM; and (3) the requirements adopted in this final rule. Requirements related to the thermal performance of the DOT-113C120W tank car are unchanged from the NPRM (75 psig maximum start to discharge pressure; maximum pressure when offered; and design service temperature). But this final rule, after consideration of comments received in the docket and to provide additional operational controls and crashworthiness for LNG tank cars, adopts supplemental requirements to those initially proposed in the NPRM: Remote monitoring of pressure and location for LNG tank cars in Start Printed Page 44996transportation; two-way end-of-train (EOT) or distributed power (DP) system for trains transporting 20 or more loaded tank cars of LNG in a continuous block, or 35 or more loaded tank cars of LNG throughout the train; and a requirement that railroads comply with § 172.820 route planning requirements. In addition, to account properly for the properties of LNG, this final rule raises the maximal filling density limit to 37.3% from the proposed 32.5%. Finally, in this final rule PHMSA is also adopting enhanced outer tank requirements compared with the requirements that apply to other DOT-113C120W-specification tank cars, including a thicker 9/16th inch outer tank made from high quality TC-128B normalized steel. Compliance with these enhanced outer tank requirements will be indicated by the new specification suffix “9” (DOT-113C120W9).

{snip}

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Sep 16, 2020, 10:43 AM

59. NTSB: Engineer in 2019 CSX collision in Ohio was intoxicated (updated)

Hat tip, Trainorders

Home/News/News Wire/NTSB: Engineer in 2019 CSX collision in Ohio was intoxicated (updated)

NTSB: Engineer in 2019 CSX collision in Ohio was intoxicated (updated)
Safety board critical of railroad's drug and alcohol testing, issues recommendations for PTC design flaw

By Bill Stephens | September 15, 2020

RELATED TOPICS: NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD | CSX | DERAILMENTS/WRECKS | FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION | SAFETY | POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL

WASHINGTON — The CSX Transportation engineer whose train ran through a stop signal and sideswiped an oncoming train near Carey, Ohio, last year had a blood alcohol level five times the legal limit, and also had traces of marijuana in his system at the time of the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said today. ... The probable cause of the Aug. 12 collision, the board found, was the engineer’s alcohol impairment. A contributing factor: The design of the positive train control system, which does not prevent collisions when it is set in the restricted mode that permits switching moves.

Westbound local train H702, which rammed into eastbound 110-car frac sand train W314 at a control point, was operating with its PTC system in restricted mode at the time of the 5:08 a.m. collision in Carey, which is between Columbus and Fostoria. ... Prior to the crash, which caused minor injuries to both engineers, H702’s crew had stopped at Carey to set out 30 empty cars. To accomplish the shove moves in active PTC territory, the engineer put the locomotive’s PTC into restricted mode, which protects against overspeed events but does not automatically stop a train before it can violate a red signal.

After switching was completed, the conductor remained on the ground and planned to ride a railroad shuttle van to a nearby grade crossing to reboard the train. The engineer proceeded ahead alone with restricted mode still engaged. Two miles later, the train passed through the red signal and collided with the oncoming frac sand train, which was diverging from the single main to the second main track.

The collision would have been prevented, the safety board said, had PTC been returned to active mode after the crew finished switching. The board found no fault with CSX dispatching or the crew of the frac sand train.

{snip}

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