Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 

 

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NTSB recommends new safety standards for commuter rail track inspections

WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration and Metro-North Railroad calling for the commuter line to inspect each track by foot or vehicle at least once every two weeks.

The recommendation from the FRA on Monday is to remove the current inspection exemption from high-density commuter railroads and require all railroads to traverse each main track by vehicle or on foot.

“Safety of our public railways remains first and foremost in achieving NTSB’s mission to prevent these types of accidents,” said Acting Chairman Christopher Hart. “We expect the same level of safety on all railroads, freight and passenger alike.”

The recommendation comes from the NTSB’s ongoing investigation of the derailment and collision of two Metro-North passenger trains in Bridgeport, CT on May 17, 2013.

During the investigation, NTSB investigators identified broken joint bars of the rail. It was also noted that the last inspection on that rail was conducted using a hi-rail vehicle two days before the accident occurred.”

Investigators measured the exposed portions of the breaks and determined the gage side bar, which is the bar closest to the centerline of the track, was the first bar to break.  Inspection records collected by the NTSB investigators revealed that the last inspection was performed from track two, and that the gage side of the rail on track four, including the gage side of the joint bar, would not have been visible from a hi-rail vehicle that traveled on track two.