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FRA plans to issue regs aimed at reducing human factor-caused train accidents

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is making a push to prevent train accidents, and the agency’s primary target is the leading accident cause: human error.

FRA is “accelerating development” of a rule designed to focus on reducing the most common human errors -- improperly lined track switches, shoving or pushing rail cars without properly monitoring for safe conditions, and leaving rail cars in a position that obstruct adjacent track, FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman said yesterday while touring CSX Transportation’s Railroad Education & Development Institute in Atlanta.

To be published by September, the proposed regulations would be the first significant update of federal regulations governing railroad employee adherence to operating rules and “will provide additional enforcement authority over violations of common operating-practice errors,” Boardman said.

Human factors are the leading cause of train accidents, accounting for 38 percent of the total, Boardman said.

The FRA also is working on other initiatives to reduce human factor-caused train accidents including a pilot project to study “close calls” -- events that do not result in an accident, but could have -- and research to address railroad worker fatigue to improve train crew scheduling practices.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/3/2006