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Rail News: Safety

NTSB's 'Most Wanted List' stresses PTC, transit-rail safety

Completing positive train control (PTC) implementation by 2018 and improving oversight of transit-rail systems rank among the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) "Most Wanted List" for 2016, which was announced today.

Although the new federal FAST Act allows railroads to apply for additional extensions to implement PTC, the NTSB urged them to get their systems ready for the technology as as soon as possible.

"The extension should allow many more railroads to comply with the law, but the NTSB encourages railroads not to wait for 2018," NTSB officials said in a fact sheet on the topic.

Citing transit-rail accidents in Chicago and Washington, D.C., the board also advocated that transit-rail systems be constantly monitored and improved to maintain and enhance safety.

Transit systems that operate rail should be "subject to competent oversight bodies that have standards and rules, and the power to enforce these rules," NTSB officials said.

Even though each system has unique equipment, operating environments and challenges, all need strong safety oversight to continue safe operations, NTSB officials said.

Other rail-related items on NTSB's list include:

• equipping locomotive cabs with audio and image recorders and equipping some light-rail vehicles with recorders;
• requiring comprehensive medical certification for train operators, including creating a process for dealing with conditions that could impair safety; and
• establishing a fatigue risk management program and continually monitoring ways to reduce fatigue-related risks for personnel performing safety-critical tasks.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/13/2016