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Safety Recommendation Details
On Sunday, July 10, 2005, about 4:15 a.m., central daylight time, two CN freight trains collided head on in Anding, Mississippi. The collision occurred on the CN Yazoo Subdivision, where the trains were being operated under a centralized traffic control signal system on single track. Signal data indicated that the northbound train, IC2 1013 North, continued past a stop (red) signal at North Anding and collided with the southbound train, IC 1023 South, about 1/4 mile beyond the signal. The collision resulted in the derailment of 6 locomotives and 17 cars. About 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel were released from the locomotives and resulted in a fire that burned for about 15 hours. Two crewmembers were on each train; all four were killed. As a precaution, about 100 Anding residents were evacuated; they did not report any injuries. Property damages exceeded $9.5 million; clearing and environmental cleanup costs totaled about $616,800.
TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Require the installation of a crash- and fire-protected locomotive cab voice recorder, or a combined voice and video recorder, (for the exclusive use in accident investigations and with appropriate limitations on the public release of such recordings) in all controlling locomotive cabs and cab car operating compartments. The recorder should have a minimum 2-hour continuous recording capability, microphones capable of capturing crewmembers’ voices and sounds generated within the cab, and a channel to record all radio conversations to and from crewmembers. (Superseded by R-10-1)
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action/Superseded
Anding, MS, United States
DCA 05 MR 011
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FRA (Closed - Unacceptable Action/Superseded)
Safety Recommendation History
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled “Locomotive Image and Audio Recording Devices for Passenger Trains,” which was published at 84 Federal Register 35712 on July 24, 2019. The NTSB notes the FRA is (1) proposing to require the installation of inward- and outward-facing locomotive image recording devices on all lead locomotives in passenger trains and (2) addressing the use of the recordings to conduct operational tests. To the extent applicable, the NTSB is pleased that the NPRM is partially responsive to our recommendations. However, for the reasons provided in this response, we are disappointed that these long awaited proposed requirements do not include audio recordings and do not apply to freight railroads—two critical factors identified in numerous accident investigations that have prompted our existing safety recommendations. The NTSB provides comments on the following: whether to require both passenger and freight railroads to install image recording devices and whether audio recording should be included, the extent to which the proposed requirements should apply to recording devices that are voluntarily installed, whether a specific run-time or shutoff requirement should be included for recording devices, whether additional equipment is needed to address high levels of background noise inside locomotive cabs, recorder technical and crashworthiness issues, whether the recorders should only operate when a train is in motion, the appropriateness of proposed implementation dates, and whether the final rule should include a prohibition on public disclosure of any audio or video recording. The NTSB has determined that dozens of previous railroad accident investigations would have benefitted from inward- and outward-facing audio and image recorders. In a number of those accidents, the operator died, was seriously injured, or could not recall details from moments before the accident. However, even in the accidents in which the operator was not injured, audio and image recorders could have verified what the operator saw and heard, as well as what actions the operator took during the accident sequence. Such recorded information allows the NTSB to identify critical safety improvements and issue recommendations to prevent similar accident circumstances from reoccurring. Recorders also definitively document relevant information that regulatory agencies, such as the FRA, often state they require to help justify the costs of implementing safety improvements. This NPRM was prompted in part by NTSB Safety Recommendations R-97-9, R-07-3, R 10-1 and -2, and reiterations of these recommendations following several other investigations involving both passenger and freight railroads. The currently applicable recommendations issued to the FRA are R-10-1 and R-10-2.
From the accident report of the September 12, 2008 collision of Metrolink regional train 111 with Union Pacific freight train near Chatsworth, California (report adopted 2/16/2010): Because Safety Recommendation R-10-1, issued as a result of this accident investigation, expands upon and reinforces the intent of Safety Recommendation R-07-3, that recommendation, which was previously classified Open Acceptable Response, is reclassified CLOSED -- UNACCEPTABLE ACTION/ SUPERSEDED.
The NTSB notes that the FRA has concerns about the cost of equipping and maintaining more than 20,000 locomotives with voice recorders. The FRA believes that additional challenges include the clarity of recorded in-cab communications, limited capacity within the crash-hardened memory module, a technology to ensure that the information is accessed by the railroads and the FRA for accident investigation purposes only, and a means to avoid intrusion into private conversations. The NTSB points out that the recommendation calls for requiring a cab voice recorder, or a combined voice and video recorder, in the controlling locomotive cabs and cab car operating compartments; it does not call for installing voice recorders on yard switching locomotives nor on any other than the lead locomotive in a multiple-unit locomotive consist train. For example, if the train has 6 locomotives and 100 cars, the NTSB recommends that only the 1 controlling locomotive be equipped with the voice recorder or combined recorder. The NTSB believes that the technology for locomotive cab voice recorders is readily available, including microphones capable of clearly capturing crewmembers’ voices and other sounds generated within the cab, as is a channel to record all radio conversations to and from crewmembers that is crash and fire protected and has a minimum 2-hour continuous recording capability. Such technology is currently being used in the aviation industry. Railroads that already have video recording devices installed on their locomotives would need to move the microphone inside the cab of the locomotive and make necessary modifications to satisfy the recommendation. The NTSB shares the FRA’s concern that the information stored on the recording be used for accident investigation purposes only. As we have pointed out in the past, the Independent Safety Board Act of 1974, as amended, specifically addresses surface vehicle recordings and limits the circumstances under which information gathered from them may be divulged. The NTSB notes that this issue was discussed at the November 27-28, 2007, meeting of the RSAC Locomotive Working Group; we would be interested in knowing the results of that discussion. The NTSB encourages the FRA to make the necessary changes to the regulations to implement this recommendation. In the meantime, Safety Recommendation R-07-3 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
This mail control response (MC# 2090325) was closed administratively.
MC# 2090325: - From Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator: The FRA responded to this recommendation with an initial recommendation response letter on October 25, 2007, and FRA is awaiting a response from NTSB as to its classification. The FRA respectfully requests that NTSB classify Safety Recommendation R-07-3 as Open-Response Received,’’ until such time as the NTSB staff and Board members have determined a classification based FRA’s initial recommendation response letter.
Letter Mail Controlled 10/30/2007 12:56:21 PM MC# 2070616: - From Joseph H. Boardman, Administrator: Require the installation of crash and fire protected locomotive cab voice recorder, or a combined voice and video recorder, (for the exclusive use in accident investigation and with appropriate limitations on public release of such recordings) in all controlling locomotive cabs and cab car operating compartments. The recorder should have a minimum 2-hour continuous recording capability, microphones capable of capturing crewmembers voices and sounds generated within the cab, and a channel to record all radio conversations to and from crew members. The FRA has previously noted its concerns regarding the cost of equipping a U.S. locomotive fleet of more than 20,000, with voice recorders. FRA is also concerned with the cost of maintaining these devices on the locomotives. FRA has also noted that installation of the technology would require a commitment on the part of the railroads and FRA to ensure that the information is only accessed for purposes of accident investigation in order to avoid intrusion into private conversations. FRA also feels there are other hurdles to overcome in regard to voice recording on locomotives. Unlike airplane cockpits, train crews do not normally utilize microphones or headphones within the locomotive cab, presenting challenges regarding the intelligibility of recorded in-cab communications. Depending upon system design, limited capacity within crash-hardened memory could require redesign of the memory module. At this time, a number of railroads are equipping locomotives with video recording devices that record the engineer’s view of the right-of-way, but the railroads have been careful to locate the recorder microphones outside the locomotive cab, so as not to record conversations of the crew. The FRA broached the subject of NTSB’s request for voice recording to the RSAC Locomotive Working Group at its last meeting on June 7, 2007, and the Working Group requested time to digest the NTSB’s recommendation. The issue was discussed again preliminarily at the September 2007 meeting, without resolution. It has been urgently requested that the parties come to the next Working Group meeting (November 27-28, 2007) prepared to address this issue definitively. The FRA will update the NTSB following the November meeting. In light of these undertakings, FRA respectfully requests that Safety Recommendations R-07-0 1, R-07-02, and R-07-03 be classified in the status of Open-Acceptable Action.
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