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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-18-025
Synopsis: On April 3, 2016, about 7:50 a.m. eastern daylight time, southbound Amtrak train 89 (train 89) struck a backhoe with a worker inside at milepost 15.7 near Chester, Pennsylvania. The train was authorized to operate on main track 3 (track 3) at the maximum authorized speed of 110 mph. Beginning on the morning of April 1, Amtrak had scheduled track-bed restoration?ballast vacuuming—at milepost 15.7 on track 2 on the Philadelphia to Washington Line. Track 2 had to be taken out of service between control points Baldwin (milepost 11.7) and Hook (milepost 16.8) for the 55 hour duration of the project. As train 89 approached milepost 15.7, the locomotive engineer saw equipment and workers on and near track 3 and initiated an emergency brake application. The train speed was 106 mph before the emergency brake application and 99 mph when it struck the backhoe. Two roadway workers were killed, and 39 other people were injured. Amtrak estimated property damages to be $2.5 million. The accident investigation focused on the following safety issues: roadway worker protection, communication between dispatchers and foremen, lack of job briefing, and safety management. As a result of this investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes safety recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, American Railway and Airway Supervisors Association, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. The National Transportation Safety Board also reiterates a recommendation to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Study available technologies that automatically alert maintenance-of-way workers fouling tracks of approaching trains, then require that such technology be implemented as a redundant protective measure.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Railroad
Location: Chester, PA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA16FR007
Accident Reports: Preliminary Report: Railroad DCA16FR007Amtrak Train Collision with Maintenance-of-Way Equipment, Chester, Pennsylvania​​Safety Recommendation Report: Using Technology to Protect Maintenance-of-Way Employees
Report #: RSR-18-03
Accident Date: 4/3/2016
Issue Date: 10/4/2018
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 9/16/2019
Response: We are pleased that you are studying alerting technologies, as recommended. Pending completion of these efforts and any subsequent action to require the use of such technology, Safety Recommendation R-18-25 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FRA
Date: 4/30/2019
Response: -From Ronald L. Batory, Administrator: Implementing Safety Recommendation R-18-25 depends on such devices being commercially available and reliable. FRA will conduct a study of existing systems to determine their feasibility of use for this purpose. FRA agrees that such technology, if available and reliable, may have prevented the April 2016 accident at Chester, Pennsylvania, as well as several other past RWP fatalities. If the study reveals that such technologies with the requisite reliability are commercially available and feasible to implement, FRA would consider requiring the use of such technologies. Therefore, FRA respectfully requests that the NTSB classify Safety Recommendation R-18-25 as "Open-Acceptable." I appreciate your continued interest in railroad safety. If FRA can provide further information or assistance, please contact Mr. Karl Alexy, Deputy Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety.

From: FRA
Date: 10/15/2018
Response: -From Karl Alexy, Deputy Association Administrator, Office of Railroad Safety: Thank you for the report Using Technology to Protect Maintenance-of-Way Employees, which was sent to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on October 9, 2018. In the "Recommendations" section of the report, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued Safety Recommendations R-18-24 and -25 to FRA. Improving safety is FRA's top priority, and FRA will continue to work to make rail shipments as safe as possible. FRA is committed to working with the NTSB to prevent future accidents and save lives. FRA welcomes and will consider all recommendations that will further that goal. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact Mr. Kenton Kilgore, Program Analyst.

From: NTSB
Date: 10/4/2018
Response: On September 28, 2018, the NTSB adopted its accident report, Using Technology to Protect Maintenance-of-Way Employees, Chester Pennsylvania, April 3, 2016, RSR-18/03. The details of this safety recommendation report may be found at Among the safety recommendations are two issued to the Federal Railroad Administration, which can be found on page 5 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response to If it exceeds 20 megabytes, including attachments, please e-mail us at the same address for instructions. Please do not submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the same response.