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Rail News: Passenger Rail

NTSB: BART's "simple approval" process caused 2013 train accident


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this week issued its final report on a 2013 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) accident that killed two engineering employees inspecting a piece of track.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the incident was BART's use of "simple approval," which allowed employees to enter the trackway with no additional protective measures or restrictions from the control center. BART permanently banned the procedure shortly after the incident.

The incident occurred Oct. 19, 2013, when a BART train struck and killed BART employees Chris Sheppard and Larry Daniels, who had been taking measurements on a piece of defective track near Walnut Creek, Calif.

The NTSB noted that the train was being operated by BART managers due to a BART union strike. The train carried no paying passengers at the time of the incident, NTSB officials said.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican thanked the NTSB "for its meticulous investigation," and highlighted the agency's safety adjustments following the accident.

The California Public Utilities Commission assisted the agency in crafting new safety policies, such as BART's rule that trains slow to 27 miles per hour whenever a worker enters the fenced off area surrounding BART's tracks, Crunican said.

Additionally, trains stop and cannot proceed if a worker is within six feet of the track. The wayside worker must inform the Operations Control Center that they are clear of the trackway before the train can move forward.

BART has also invested an additional $5.3 million in roadway safety initiatives, which includes the hiring of 40 additional staff, Crunican said. The agency adopted more extensive safety training programs for trackside workers, as well.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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