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Passenger-rail safety, PTC make NTSB's 'Most Wanted List' for 2014


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday released its "Most Wanted List" of the top 10 advocacy and awareness priorities for 2014, which for the first time includes passenger-rail safety improvements.

Millions of Americans rely on subway, commuter-rail and light-rail services for their daily commute, yet during the past year the board has opened investigations into accidents involving MTA Metro-North Railroad, the Chicago Transit Authority and Bay Area Rapid Transit, NTSB officials said in a press release. In addition, a number of safety recommendations made to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after a fatal accident in 2009 remain open.

In numerous accident investigation reports, the board has repeatedly identified the need for safety improvements — particularly with regard to safety culture and operational practices — in light-, heavy- and commuter-rail systems, NTSB officials said.

"The traveling public relies on a safe and efficient transportation system. Yet, every year, we see over 35,000 fatalities," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "That's why we have the Most Wanted List: Steps we can take today, so that more people make it home tonight."

The Most Wanted List also again includes positive train control (PTC), which the board long has been calling for, NTSB officials said. Since 2004, the NTSB has completed investigations of 25 train accidents that caused 65 fatalities and more than 1,100 injuries, and caused millions of dollars in damage that could have been prevented or mitigated by PTC, they said.

In addition, the 2014 list includes passenger vessel safety — a new item on this year's list — and pipeline safety. The board currently is investigating a pipeline explosion in Birmingham, Ala., and a rupture and fire in Sissonville, W.Va., that destroyed three homes.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/17/2014