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FRA proposes rule to generate more detailed train accident info, more useful injury data

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposes to revise federal safety regulations to require railroads to provide new and more detailed information about train accidents, grade crossing incidents, and injuries and illness that occur on rail property.

Under a proposed new rule, railroads would have to notify the National Response Center (NRC) of any crossing fatality within 24 hours of an incident and provide greater detail about crossing incidents, such as whether a locomotive-mounted video recorder captured an event. For the first time, railroads also would be required to report suicides and attempted suicides to help FRA officials better quantify incidents and develop mitigation strategies.

In addition, passenger railroads would need to identify whether a locomotive was pulling or pushing a train at the time of a reportable accident or incident, and for the first time report incidents during which a passenger is hurt or killed when boarding or leaving a train because of any gap between cars and platforms.

Railroads also would be required to report all injuries and illnesses that occur anywhere in the rail operating environment, regardless of cause, to prevent premature determinations that conditions weren't rail-related, the FRA said. Multiple operating entities or subsidiaries would be permitted to provide consolidated accident or incident reporting to minimize potential reporting inaccuracies.

"Having the most accurate and complete information available for analysis is critical to ensuring appropriate and effective safety oversight," said FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman in a prepared statement.

The FRA is soliciting public comments until Nov. 10 on several issues, including what additional information should be gathered to address crossing accident causes, and whether railroads should provide longitude and latitude data for trespassing incidents to assist in identifying "hot spots." The agency also is determining whether railroads should report certain accidents and incidents directly to the FRA in addition to the NRC, and how to best ensure that proper restrictions are in place on the use and public availability of suicide data.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/10/2008