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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-09-021
Details
Synopsis: On Monday, June 22, 2009, about 4:58 p.m., eastern daylight time, southbound WMATA Metrorail train 112 was traveling in a curve when it struck the rear end of Metrorail train 214 before reaching the Fort Totten station. There was no communication between the train operators and the Metrorail Operations Control Center before the collision. During the collision, the lead car of train 112 telescoped and overrode the rear car of train 214 by about 50 feet. Examination of the track and wreckage indicated that the emergency brake on train 112 was applied before impact. The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service reported 9 fatalities and transported 52 persons to local hospitals.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Require all railroads that use audio frequency track circuits in their train control systems to examine track circuits that may be susceptible to parasitic oscillation and spurious signals capable of exploiting unintended signal paths and eliminate those adverse conditions that could affect the safe performance of their train control systems. This work should be conducted in coordination with their signal and train control equipment manufacturers. (Urgent)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Washington, D.C., DC, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA09MR007
Accident Reports: Collision of Two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail Trains Near Fort Totten Station
Report #: RAR-10-02
Accident Date: 6/22/2009
Issue Date: 9/22/2009
Date Closed: 7/19/2012
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 7/19/2012
Response: The NTSB notes that the FRA identified SEPTA as the only FRA-regulated railroad that uses GRS Type 2 AFTC modules. However, these modules are used only in transit service, in highway-rail grade crossings, in overlay track circuits, and for other purposes; they are not used for mainline track circuits. SEPTA was notified by Alstom on July 29, 2010, that the Generation 2 GRS AFTC modules having pulse-type parasitic oscillation had been installed by WMATA near Fort Totten during the 1970s. Alstom supplied SEPTA with Generation 4 AFTC modules developed in the 1990s that reflect design developments, including a completely redesigned module housing that holds the track circuit electrical components, additional filters, and various circuit changes. The NTSB also notes that in November 2009, Alstom tested Generation 4 audio frequency track circuit modules on SEPTA and that this testing revealed no evidence of pulse-type parasitic oscillation with any Generation 4 modules. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation R-09-21 is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 12/1/2011
Response: CC# 201100449 was closed administratively; no response was written or mailed.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/7/2011
Response: CC# 201100231: - From Aaron W. Thompson, Program Analyst, Accident Analysis Branch: Please reference FRA’s report to Congress at http://www.fra.dot.gov/rrs/pages/fp_1778.shtml. Additional information is below. R-05-10: After speaking with Dennis Yachechak (OP Acting SD), it is believed FRA will take no further action with this recommendation. R-02-01: After speaking with Tom McFatlin (S&TC SD) and Ron Ries (HRX SD), it is believed FRA will take no further action with this recommendation. R-09-21: After speaking with Tom McFatlin (S&TC SD), it is believed FRA will take no further action with this recommendation. R-09-22: After speaking with Tom McFatlin (S&TC SD), it is believed FRA will take no further action with this recommendation. R-03-12: After speaking with Bob Lauby (Dep. Assoc. Administrator for Regulatory and Legislative Ops.), it is believed FRA will take no further action with this recommendation. FRA will support Amtrak’s actions regarding this recommendation.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/12/2011
Response: -From Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation: NTSB Classification and Actions Taken by FRA: Open – Acceptable Response. FRA has surveyed all FRA-regulated railroads to determine their possible use of audio frequency track circuits for train detection. FRA field personnel contacted appropriate representatives of every railroad to determine their awareness of this recommendation and the circumstances involved in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) accident that precipitated it. Various railroads reported using a form of audio frequency track circuits; however, all but one instance involved uses of a totally different nature that did not implicate the same safety concerns. In one instance, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) was found to use the same type of circuitry, but only on a branch line. Further, SEPTA was fully aware of the NTSB’s findings and recommendations related to the WMATA accident and had already tested each such circuit. In addition, SEPTA had already revised its associated circuitry testing procedures so as to identify any similar condition, and had enhanced its monitoring of the circuitry by increasing the periodic testing interval from yearly to monthly. FRA believes that the purpose of the recommendation has been fulfilled. Actions Needed to Be Taken by FRA: None.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 5/18/2010
Response: The NTSB is pleased that the FRA has surveyed all FRA-regulated railroads to determine their possible use of audio frequency track circuits for train detection and that the railroads were all aware of the WMATA accident and subsequent recommendations. We are also pleased that the FRA will contact the railroads that utilize these circuits and determine exactly what measures each railroad has taken or will undertake concerning the examination and elimination of any possible failures in similar audio frequency track circuits and the ongoing monitoring of these components. As the FRA’s actions satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendation R-09-20, this recommendation is classified Closed Acceptable Action. Pending completion of the FRA’s followup with each affected railroad, Safety Recommendations R-09-21 and -22 are classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE. The NTSB is interested in the outcome of the initiatives described above and would like to be updated as actions proceed.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/22/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 11/3/2009 3:14:08 PM MC# 2090666: - From Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator: 49 CFR § 236.51 Section 236.51 requires that the track relay, or device that functions as a track relay, of all track circuits controlling home signals, and all track circuits of automatic train stop, train control, or cab signal systems, to include those superimposed on track circuits of the conjunctive system, be installed and maintained in accordance with the conditions specified by this section. This includes the requirement that the track relay, or device that functions as a track relay, of each track circuit must be deenergized or in its most restrictive state when a rail is broken or a rail or switch-frog is removed; when any part of the track circuit or fouling section is occupied by a train, locomotive, or car; and, where a switch shunting circuit is used, when the switch is not in proper position, a facing-point lock is not locked, or an independently operated fouling-point derail equipped with switch circuit controller is not in derailing position. Section 236.51 is the standard by which all track circuits that control home signals or locking circuits shall be designed and installed; and it applies to all types of track circuits that control home signals or locking circuits, or automatic train stop, train control, or cab signal systems. It does not apply to track circuits that do not affect the safety of train operation, such as annunciator circuits or approach lighting circuits on non-signaled sidings. FRA headquarters Signal and Train Control Division staff will, in the near future, directly contact the appropriate management of each FRA-regulated railroad found to utilize audio frequency track circuits for providing the train detection function within their signal or train control system. That staff will ascertain precisely what actions each railroad has taken or will take regarding their examination of such track circuits and the elimination of any like potential failure. Therefore, FRA respectfully requests that, until the agency is able to further address these safety recommendations through direct follow-up with each affected railroad it regulates, the NTSB classify Safety Recommendation R-09-21 (urgent) as Open-Acceptable Response.