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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA issues safety advisory on train speed limits


In the wake of MTA Metro-North Railroad's deadly train derailment, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday issued an industry-wide safety advisory on train speed restrictions.

The advisory includes four recommendations to ensure railroads comply with speed restrictions through appropriate operating policies, procedures and effective implementation, FRA officials said in a press release.

"Safety is our highest priority, and the Metro-North crash illustrates how important it is for railroads to follow speed limits," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This safety advisory, along with the other enforcement measures we’ve taken, will remind all employees of the need to follow speed limits and will help improve safety across all rail lines."

Railroads need to act immediately on the following four recommendations: review with their operating employees the circumstances of Metro-North's Dec. 1 derailment; instruct employees in training classes and safety briefings on the importance of compliance with maximum speed limits and other speed restrictions; evaluate results of operational data regarding speed testing; and reinforce the importance of communication between crew members located in the controlling locomotive, particularly during safety-critical periods when multiple tasks are occurring and during extended periods of inactivity.

The advisory follows the FRA's issuance last week of an emergency order that directed Metro-North to take immediate steps to ensure its train crews do not exceed speed limits. The order required the commuter railroad to modify its existing signal system to ensure operators obey speed limits, and to provide two qualified railroad employees to operate trains where major speed restrictions are in place until its signal system is modified.

In a separate letter, the FRA also called on Metro-North to launch a safety stand-down with all employees and to fully implement the confidential close-call reporting system, which has helped improve rail safety on other lines.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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