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11/11/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

NTSB updates transportation safety improvement wish list



The National Transportation Safety Board recently updated its list of "most wanted" safety improvements, including those for the rail and intermodal industries. The board established the list in 1990 to focus attention on transportation safety improvements that could reduce fatalities and injuries.

The board removed cab voice recorders from the rail industry list because the Federal Railroad Administration "refused to adopt the recommended safety enhancement," according to a prepared statement.

The rail industry's updated list includes positive train-control systems, which would prevent train collisions and speed-related accidents by relying on automatic control systems to override operator errors, NTSB said. The recommendation has received an acceptable response from the FRA, but implementation is progressing too slowly, board members believe.

The NTSB also recommends that the rail industry improve recorder survivability to protect data from accident-related fires and impact forces. So far, the recommendation has received an "unacceptable" response from the FRA, board members said.

Meanwhile, the NTSB recommends the intermodal industry regulate hours of service by providing predictable work and rest schedules. Implementation of the recommendation — which has received varied responses from federal agencies — isn't progressing fast enough, board members said.

"Our recommendations are derived from the hard lessons we have learned over the years investigating many tragic accidents," said NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners. "Quite simply, implementing these measures will save lives."


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