Safety Recommendation R-14-076
Synopsis: On July 18, 2013, at 8:29 p.m. eastern daylight time, northbound CSX Transportation (CSX) train Q70419, derailed on the Metro-North Hudson Line at milepost (MP) 9.99 on main track 2. The train consisted of 2 locomotives and 24 modified flat cars. Each flat car was loaded with 4 containers of municipal refuse. The 11th through 20th cars derailed. At the point of derailment (POD), NTSB investigators identified a number of track conditions that could contribute to a wide gage including center-bound concrete ties, fouled ballast, profile deviations, and displaced insulators. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was excessive track gage due to a combination of fouled ballast, deteriorated concrete ties, and profile deviations resulting from Metro-North’s decision to defer scheduled track maintenance.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Once you have completed the actions specified in Safety Recommendation R-14-75, program your geometry inspection vehicles to detect combinations of conditions that require remedial action.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Railroad
Location: New York City (Bronx), NY, USA
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA-13-FR-009
Accident Reports:
Report #: None
Accident Date: 7/18/2013
Issue Date: 12/30/2014
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 1/8/2016
Response: We note that all your track geometry inspection vehicles have been programmed to detect combinations of the track geometry conditions contained in the VTI Safety Standards, in Subpart G, but not in Subparts A through F. Please add the conditions specified into Subparts A through F to fully satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendation R-14-76. Pending your taking such action, the recommendation is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FRA
Date: 4/13/2015
Response: From Sarah Feinberg, Acting Administrator: Thank you for your December 30, 2014, letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) Safety Recommendations R-14-75 and R-14-76. These recommendations were a result of the NTSB's investigation of the derailment of a CSX Transportation (CSX) train on Metro-North Railroad's track in Bronx, NY, on July 18,2013. Safety Recommendation R-14-75 asks FRA to "revise its Track Safety Standards to define specific allowable limits for combinations of track conditions, none of which individually amounts to a deviation from FRA regulations, but when combined, require remedial action." Safety Recommendation R -14-7 6 asks FRA to "program the FRA track geometry inspection vehicles to detect these combinations of conditions that require remedial action." The enclosure to this letter contains FRA's response to Safety Recommendations R-14-75 and R-14-76 and explains the actions that FRA has taken to address the recommendations or the underlying safety concerns expressed in the recommendations. FRA respectfully requests that the NTSB classify Safety Recommendations R-14-7 5 and R -14-7 6 as "Closed Acceptable Alternative Action." We look forward to continuing to work with you on important safety issues. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) agrees with this recommendation; however, as part of a rulemaking to revise its Track Safety Standards, FRA had already reviewed various track conditions to determine which combinations of track conditions are unsafe and require remedial action to ensure safe operations. Following this review, FRA published a final rule on Vehicle/Track Interaction (VTI) Safety Standards that established new requirements to address unsafe combinations of track alignment and surface conditions. See Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Sections 213.65 and 213.332; 78 Fed. Reg. 16052 (March 13, 2013). The rule, which was developed with the assistance of FRA's Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), also modified the scope section in Part 213 to reflect the adoption of the VTI final rule's combination defects by stating, in part, that this section, "in general," prescribes requirements that apply to specific track conditions existing in isolation. See 49 CFR § 213.1(a). In developing its VTI rule, FRA sought to include revisions that would "serve as practical standards with sound physical and mathematical bases," and arrived at its proposals "through the results of computer simulations of vehicle/track dynamics, consideration of international practices, and thorough reviews of qualification and revenue service test data." See 78 Fed. Reg. 16056-57. In addition to the RSAC consultation process, the proposals were subject to public comment and modified, as appropriate, in the final rule. FRA' s track geometry inspection vehicles have all been programmed to detect combinations of the track geometry conditions contained in the March 13, 2013, VTI final rule mentioned above.