NTSB Wants Changes in Track Protection

The National Transportation Safety Board wants Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to ban the practice of using watchmen to notify track worker of approaching trains in areas where positive train control offers additional safety features.

The recommendation was included in an NTSB report about an April 24, 2018, accident in which an Amtrak watchman was killed in Bowie, Maryland, when he was struck from behind by a northbound Amtrak train while focused on the movement of a southbound MARC commuter train.

The report said the probable cause of the accident was “Amtrak’s insufficient site-specific safety work plan for the Bowie project that (1) did not consider the multiple main tracks in a high-noise environment and (2) did not provide the rail gang watchman with a safe place to stand,” leading to him standing on an active track.

NTSB noted in its report that PTC systems can automatically slow trains through work zones.

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