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dsktc
03-03-2006, 12:50 AM
New Federal Rule Aims to Reduce Human Error As Cause of Train Accidents

Thursday, March 02, 2006 (Washington, DC)
Visiting a railroad employee training facility in Atlanta, GA, Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Joseph H. Boardman announced today that his agency intends to issue regulations to address the most common human errors that cause train accidents.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is accelerating development of a rule that will focus on reducing the most common human errors such as improperly lined track switches, shoving or pushing rail cars without properly monitoring for safe conditions, and leaving rail cars in a position that obstruct an adjacent track, Boardman said. The proposed regulations will be published by September 2006.

“The new regulation will provide additional enforcement authority over violations of common operating practice errors,” said Boardman. “This effort is one of many aggressive steps we are taking to prevent train accidents from occurring in the first place,” he added.

Human factors are the leading cause of train accidents, accounting for 38 percent of the total, Boardman said. The new rule would be the first significant update of Federal regulations governing railroad employee adherence to operating rules. FRA also is actively working on other initiatives to reduce human factor-caused train accidents including a pilot project to study ‘close calls’—or events that do not result in an accident, but could have, and research to address railroad worker fatigue to improve train crew scheduling practices.

Since the National Rail Safety Action Plan was unveiled in May 2005 by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, FRA has made significant progress on each of its specific elements including reducing human factor-caused train accidents, addressing fatigue among railroad operating employees, improving track safety, enhancing hazardous materials safety and emergency response preparedness, and improving highway-rail grade crossing safety.

Boardman made today’s announcement while touring CSX Transportation’s state-of-the-art Railroad Education & Development Institute (REDI).

http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/press-releases/89

Dave

J
03-03-2006, 01:27 AM
This initiative stems from the Graniteville accident involving a misaligned main track switch in non-signalled territory. A road train was directed into a spur track where it collided with a local resulting in a breached chlorine tank car and 8 fatalities. A local roadswitch crew was faulted with forgetting to re-line the switch after tying up.

The announcement is somewhat of a "pot boiler" because FRA has already issued a Safety Directive on the issue and held a series of multi-day meetings with rail labor and management over the issue. FRA will probably issue a proposed rule late this year with a final rule taking effect in late 2007.

Pat Lorenz
03-03-2006, 04:40 AM
You know it seems to me like a solution is right infornt of me. Why dont they just make RR with better hours. Why cant there be set shifts and some decent hours. People work alot better when they develop a routine, set shift or easyer hours wouldnt demand so much from the human body. Railroading is alot of work, and you need time to sleep. It just seems like a crazy idea to punish somebody for not being able to get good rest before the next shift.

busyEMT
03-03-2006, 05:20 AM
Solution to prevent "human error based events": remove the human element!
Everyone wants to pile on more laws. There will still be crashes and incidences (I refuse to say accidents). I am sure there are many less crashes with modern technology - but in this day and age of "no room for error," one derailment is rise for an investigation leading to sweeping changes.

An engineer can push button switches, but it is foreseeable, that they will have to stop at every turnout to visually confirm the position. Lets see how much commerce is done on the railroads!

I don't want to see neighborhoods evacuated from toxic gas clouds like everyone else. But how far are the laws/rules/regulations going to go? 25 mph is much safer than 60 mph, should we require trains to stop at every crossing?

trainmonster
03-03-2006, 06:46 AM
You know it seems to me like a solution is right infornt of me. Why dont they just make RR with better hours. Why cant there be set shifts and some decent hours. People work alot better when they develop a routine, set shift or easyer hours wouldnt demand so much from the human body. Railroading is alot of work, and you need time to sleep. It just seems like a crazy idea to punish somebody for not being able to get good rest before the next shift.

That's why I wouldn't work for the RR even if you gave me all the gold in Ft. Knox for it.

Rich

J
03-03-2006, 10:41 AM
You're talking about a complex system that has evolved over decades. A few factors:
- Customers aren't interested in the convenience of the railroads or their employees and stopping trains after 10 pm isn't going to wash.
- Pay is almost always based on mileage - do you want to tell a 35-year employee (or his local chairman) that he can only work (earn) X miles (hours) a month?
- A railroad can provide a lineup so a crew can predict when they're going to work. The accuracy of such schemes can be demolished by someone laying off on call, a service interruption (accident, equipment failure, bad order set out, weather), unexpected train popping up in interchange.

There is a significant amount of effort going on in this area. Railroads recognize that to attract and keep people they have to change. I'll share more when I have the time.

E3429
03-05-2006, 02:55 AM
This rule is already in effect as far as I know. A form must be signed by both the engineer and the employee in charge stating that all switches handled have been restored to normal position at the end of the tour (whether any were handled or not). The paperwork must then be kept for X-amount of days. Failure to do so can result in a $27,000 fine to the employee.

And yeah, better hours would help!

E

J
03-05-2006, 08:26 PM
The "Switch Position Awareness Form" is currently required by FRA's Safety Directive issued late last year. This will become obsolete when the final rule is issued.