-From Ronald L. Batory, Administrator: This letter is the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) response to twelve National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Safety Recommendations (see list below). Over half of these recommendations are currently classified as "Open - Acceptable Response," and because the FRA has addressed the intent of the recommendations, no further action is necessary. FRA therefore requests that these be classified as "Closed- Acceptable Action."
For the remaining five, FRA has evaluated each recommendation relative to current and potential new regulations, including requirements for conducting cost-benefit analysis of each potential measure to address each recommendation, and has concluded FRA cannot reasonably take further action on them. Thus, FRA respectfully asks the NTSB to classify each of them as "Closed."
Overall, the twelve Safety Recommendations in question are: • R-01-02 • R-12-21 • R-13-22 • R-14-17 • R-01-17 • R-12-22 • R-13-38 • R-14-44 • R-08-06 • R-12-41 • R-14-16 • R-14-48
In the enclosure, FRA discusses the challenges to implement these recommendations, describes what actions the agency has performed, and explains why FRA cannot proceed further, other than to audit compliance as appropriate. Each recommendation is addressed in the enclosure in the following manner:
• NTSB Safety Recommendation Number;
• Text of the Safety Recommendation as issued by the NTSB;
• Status (e.g., "Open-Acceptable Response");
• FRA's position on the Safety Recommendation (see bolded text in shaded boxes);
• A summary of the accident that led the NTSB to issue the recommendation;
• A summary of the NTSB and FRA correspondence regarding each recommendation; and
• FRA's explanation for why we cannot pursue any further action on the recommendation.
To facilitate closure of these recommendations, FRA met with the NTSB on March 1, 2018, to expound on our reasoning and answer questions. This enclosure only includes those recommendations for which we believe we came to an understanding.
If FRA can provide further information or assistance, please contact Mr. Robert C. Lauby, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer.
Please note that Federal agencies like FRA are required to follow the direction of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 for rulemaking, which require quantifying both costs and benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. Executive Order 12866 specifically states that:
Each agency shall assess both the costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs.
To meet the requirements of these Executive Orders, for each proposed and final regulation issued, FRA performs a regulatory analysis to:
1. Establish whether Federal regulation is necessary and justified to achieve a social goal; and
2. Clarify how to design regulations in the most efficient, least burdensome, and most cost effective manner.
While issuing regulations to implement many of these NTSB recommendations could improve railroad safety in the specific railroad accident or incident from which each arose, regulatory action to implement these recommendations would result in financial and safety costs that far exceed the societal benefits of improved safety or accident avoidance. Based on the associated cost-benefit analysis, implementing regulations that are required by some of these recommendations would not meet the intent of the Executive Orders listed above, which is inconsistent with the Administration's regulatory policy. Where applicable, FRA has calculated the anticipated costs and benefits of each recommendation and included that information with each detailed response.
Please also note, in the 2016 Federal Railroad Administration Report to Congress on Actions Taken to Implement Unmet Statutory Mandates and Address Open Recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation's Inspector General Regarding Railroad Safety, FRA informed Congress that the agency would be taking no further action on these twelve recommendations.
Current Status: Open-Acceptable Response
FRA has published a final rule that fulfills the intent of the recommendation. Further regulations addressing this recommendation would result in costs that overwhelmingly exceed the societal benefits. Therefore, FRA cannot reasonably take further action on this recommendation, and requests that the NTSB close this recommendation.
The NTSB issued Safety Recommendation R-12-21 in response to an accident on April 17, 2011, near Red Oak, IA, in which a BNSF Railway (BNSF) coal train collided with the rear end of a standing BNSF maintenance-of-way equipment train. The collision resulted in the derailment of two locomotives and 12 cars; both crewmembers on the striking train were fatally injured, and damage exceeded $8. 7 million.
FRA's actions to address R-12-21: FRA has analyzed available safety data, evaluated safety requirements, and conducted research on inhibiting colliding equipment override. On June 28, 2006, FRA issued the Locomotive Crashworthiness Final Rule ( 49 CFR parts 229 and 238). The final rule incorporates by reference AAR Standard S-580-2005, which the rule applies to all locomotives manufactured or remanufactured on or after January 1, 2009.
FRA evaluated the industry's revisions to its safety standards, and concluded that the implementation of AAR Standard S-580-2005 increases the strength of the locomotive's structure and includes provisions for anticlimbers and collision posts, which are required to extend 24 inches above the finished floor and be located forward of the position of any seated crewmember. The position of the collision posts and their required height were chosen to provide survivable space for the crewmembers in the event of a frontal collision with an object above the underframe of the locomotive.
FRA believes it has met the intent of the recommendation, and cannot reasonably take further action. FRA respectfully requests that the NTSB reclassify Safety Recommendation R-12-21 as, "Closed-Acceptable Action."