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On May 28, 2013, about 1:59 p.m., a 2003 Mack Granite three-axle roll-off straight truck, operated by Alban Waste, LLC, was traveling northwest on a private road in Rosedale, Maryland, toward a private highway–railroad grade crossing. The grade crossing consisted of two tracks and was marked on each side with a crossbuck sign. The truck was carrying a load of debris to a recycling center located 3.5 miles from the carrier terminal. About the same time, a CSX Transportation Company (CSXT) freight train—which consisted of two locomotives, 31 empty cars, and 14 loaded cars—was traveling southwest at a recorded speed of 49 mph. As the train approached the crossing, the train horn sounded three times. The truck did not stop; and as the train traversed the crossing, it struck the truck on the right side, causing the truck to rotate and overturn before coming to rest on the earthen embankment on the northwest side of the tracks. The first 15 cars of the 45-car train derailed.
TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Develop an algorithm using grade crossing inventory and accident history data to provide annual crash prediction estimates for private highway–railroad grade crossings, similar to your WBAPS tool for public grade crossings, and make the results easily accessible to states, railroads, and the public.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
Rosedale, MD, United States
Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Collision
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FRA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
We are disappointed that you have changed your position since your December 18, 2014, letter, in which you informed us that you were developing an algorithm to predict accidents at private crossings. We note that you now believe that satisfying this safety recommendation is impossible because the data you need may not be available for several years. We continue to believe that the data you collect can provide useful information that could be used in a predictive model; however, because you have indicated that you do not plan to take further action, Safety Recommendation R-14-49 is classified CLOSED--UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Heath Hall, Acting Administrator: FRA understands the intent of Safety Recommendation R-14-49. However, we believe this Safety Recommendation is not achievable, as FRA's current data will not support such an effort, nor will the necessary data be available in the foreseeable future. As explained in the enclosure, there is insufficient data available to derive an algorithm that would provide annual crash prediction estimates for private highway-railroad grade crossings and it will likely be years until sufficient data ever becomes available. Therefore, FRA respectfully asks that NTSB close Safety Recommendation R-14-49. FRA recognizes the usefulness of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) Accident Prediction and Severity Formulas, which are used by States, railroads, academia, and others in analyzing safety at public highway-rail grade crossings. These formulas use data obtained from FRA's Railroad Accident/Incident System (RAIS) and the U.S. DOT National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory (Inventory). RAIS contains a record of every public and private highway-rail grade crossing collision that railroads report to FRA. This RAIS data, coupled with certain data elements in the Inventory, is used by U.S. DOT Accident Prediction and Severity formulas as related to public highway-rail crossings. FRA does not, however, have an algorithm for predicting accidents at private highway-rail grade crossings. Private crossings vary significantly from public crossings, so developing accident prediction formulas for them is not as simple as replicating what has already been done. Attempting to develop an algorithm for private crossings would require considerably more data, much of which is not available and will likely not be available for years. In an effort to gather more data related to private highway-rail grade crossings, FRA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2012, which required that railroads report new data elements to the Inventory for private highway-rail grade crossings (77 Federal Register (FR) 64077). Six of the new required data elements are used in the algorithm for public highway-rail grade crossings; however, the algorithm for public highway-rail grade crossings in the Accident Prediction and Severity formulas uses 13 data elements. FRA assumes that an algorithm for private crossings would need most, if not all, of the required elements used in the public-crossing algorithms. On January 6, 2015, FRA published the final rule requiring railroads to report new data elements to the Inventory for private highway-rail grade crossings (80 FR 745). However, after receiving a petition for reconsideration from the Association of American Railroads, FRA published a revised final rule on June 10, 2016 (81 FR 37521). Railroads are required to submit the new data elements on private crossings to the Inventory within three years of their most recent submission to the Inventory or three years from August 9, 2016, whichever occurs first. Therefore, the six new data elements for private crossings may not be available until August 9, 2019.
We understand that accident prediction and severity formulas use data obtained from your Railroad Accident/Incident System and that the inventory contains a record of every public and private highway-rail grade crossing collision that railroads report to you. However, the inventory does not contain sufficient data elements for the development of such formulas for private crossings. As discussed above, you are developing a final rule from your October 2012 NPRM, which proposes a requirement that railroads report new data elements to the inventory for private highway-rail grade crossings; you plan to continue evaluating the feasibility and utility of requiring railroads to supply additional data to the inventory for private highway-rail grade crossings. Once you obtain sufficient data elements, you plan to develop an algorithm for accident prediction at private crossings and make the algorithm available for use by states, railroads, and the public. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation R 14-49 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE, pending completion of the recommended action.
-From Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator: FRA recognizes the usefulness of the DOT accident prediction and severity formulas that are used by States, railroads, academia, and others in analyzing safety at public highway-rail grade crossings_, These formulas use data obtained from FRA's Railroad Accident/Incident System (RAIS) and the Inventory. RAIS contains a record of every public and private highway-rail grade crossing collision that railroads report to FRA. This RAIS data, coupled with certain data in the Inventory, is the basis for existing accident prediction and severity formulas as related to public highway-rail crossings. At present, however, the Inventory does not contain sufficient data elements for the development of such formulas for private crossings. The development of an algorithm for accident prediction at private crossings will not be feasible until sufficient data is available to perform the necessary computations for the formula. As noted in FRA's response to R-14-48 above, FRA is developing a final rule incorporating the proposals in its October 18, 2012, NPRM (77 Fed. Reg. 64077), which included a proposed requirement that railroads report new data elements to the Inventory for private highway-rail grade crossings. Six of the data elements proposed to be required are used in the algorithm for public highway-rail grade crossings. However, the algorithm for public highway-rail grade crossings uses 13 data elements in the accident prediction and severity formulas. Therefore, FRA will continue to evaluate the feasibility and utility of requiring railroads to supply additional data to the Inventory for private highway-rail grade crossings. Once sufficient data elements can be obtained, FRA will endeavor to develop and make available for use by States, railroads, and the public an algorithm for accident prediction at private crossings.
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