NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


Five Freight Train Rear-End Collisions In 2011 Prompt NTSB Safety Recommendations To Federal Railroad Administration, Industry, Labor Unions

January 12, 2012

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today issued two safety recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) related to five rear-end collisions in which crewmembers failed to operate their trains at the required restricted speed. Related recommendations were also issued to the Association of American Railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the United Transportation Union.

All five recommendations focus on the need for railroads to disseminate information related to these accidents to their employees and to emphasize the need for crewmembers to operate trains in accordance with restricted speed operating rules.

The five accidents include:

The accidents in Red Oak and Mineral Springs resulted in crewmember fatalities and are still under investigation by the NTSB. Four of the five accidents occurred on railroad lines over which Amtrak passenger trains operate.

Because these accidents occurred on different railroads and under different circumstances, the NTSB is concerned that noncompliance with restricted speed requirements may be an issue affecting a broad segment of the U.S. railroad industry.

Signal systems provide for the safe separation between trains. However, there are times when trains are authorized to occupy the same sections of track. In these cases, safe train operations rely solely on crewmember compliance with the railroad's restricted speed requirements.

Typically, these requirements include "being prepared to stop within one-half the range of vision." Complete understanding of and strict compliance with restricted speed requirements are absolutely mandatory to prevent catastrophic train collisions.

The safety recommendation letters may be found here: http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety_recs.html

NTSB Press Contact: Bridget Serchak
(202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.