Posts Tagged ‘National Transportation Safety Board’

Track Was Still Open When 2 Workers Killed

November 4, 2022

Two workers killed on a bridge in Philadelphia when they were struck by a Port Authority Transit Corporation train last month were on a track before it was scheduled to be closed, federal investigators have determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the construction workers were on Track 2 of the Ben Franklin Bridge before being struck at 9:21 p.m. on Oct. 14.

The NTSB preliminary report said the PATCO train was traveling westbound at 33 miles per hour before the incident, but the operator had applied the emergency brakes just before the two men were struck. The workers were employed by JPC Group.

Earlier reports had indicated the track had already been closed at the time the incident occurred.

The NTSB cautioned that its findings are preliminary and the investigation is continuing. The bridge crosses the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey.

Track on Bridge Where Workers Will Killed Was Supposed to have Been Shut Down, NTSB Finds

October 21, 2022

A National Transportation Safety Board probe found that a track where two constructions workers were killed on a bridge linking Philadelphia with New Jersey was supposed to have been shut down.

The workers were struck by a PATCO train on the Ben Franklin bridge on Oct. 15.

An NTSB spokeswoman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the incident occurred on Track 2, which was supposed to have been removed from service for a work window.

The incident occurred on a part of the bridge where there were close clearances. The track closure was to have taken place before the time when the workers entered that area.

The spokeswoman said the NTSB finding are preliminary.

PATCO trains using the bridge operate between Philadelphia and Lindenwold, New Jersey.

Debris From Mudslide Caused CSX Derailment

September 27, 2022

Federal investigators said a 2020 CSX derailment in Kentucky was likely caused by debris on  the track after a mudslide.

The derailment occurred on Feb. 13, 2020, near Draffin, Kentucky, on a route that is wedged between the Russel Fork River and a hillside.

The mudslide occurred following several weeks of rain, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released last week.

Investigators said the area had received more than 300 percent of its normal rainfall in the two weeks before the derailment occurred.

Three locomotives, a buffer car and four tank cars derailed. Two of the tank cars released 38,400 gallons of denatured ethanol.

The report said the spilled ethanol combined with diesel fuel from the locomotives and ignited, resulting in a locomotive being destroyed by fire.

The train crew was able to escape through the river and sustained minor injuries.

Although the locomotive engineer applied the train’s emergency brakes, there was not enough time to avoid a collision with the debris on the track.

A weather alert system that CSX relied upon “did not account for the impact of the unusual increases and accumulation of precipitation” over several weeks, and elevated temperatures in the month before the derailment, the NTSB report said.

The NTSB said the severity of the derailment might have been reduced had the two tank cars that spilled ethanol been placed further toward the rear of the train.

The cars were of the USDOT-111 type. The NTSB has in earlier reports made a similar recommendation about the placement of that class of tank cars.

Brown Nominated to NTSB Seat

August 12, 2022

President Joseph Biden has nominated Alvin Brown to a seat on the National Transportation Safety Board.

Brown is the former mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, who has served as a senior adviser for urban policy during the Clinton administration.

His positions included serving as executive director and vice chair of the White House Community Empowerment Board, and as a senior adviser to former U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Alvin Brown also has president and CEO of The Willie Gary Classic, a foundation that offers forums and scholarships to students, and as executive director of the Bush/Clinton Katrina Interfaith Fund, which provided $20 million to rebuild houses of worship in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

NTSB Issues Report on NS Track Worker Death

February 19, 2022

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report that the death of a track gang worker in Pennsylvania last December was caused by his being struck by a piece of maintenance of way equipment.

The incident occurred Dec. 8 in Reed, Pennsylvania, about 15 miles north-northwest of Harrisburg.

The worker was employed by National Salvage and Service Corporation, a contracting company hired by NS to work on the Buffalo Line.

The NTSB report said the worker was standing between the rails when he was struck and killed. He was identified as Kolton Parker Helbert, 27, of Kingsport, Tennessee.

The track machine had reversed direction shortly before the incident and the operator of the machine said he did not see Helbert behind the machine before or during the reverse movement.

NTSB said its investigation into the incident is continuing and will focus on equipment, training requirements, worker safety, and regulatory compliance.

Devices Were Working Before CSX-SEPTA Crash

February 11, 2022

Safety appliances that protect a crossing at grade of CSX and a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority line were working properly at the time of a December collision of a SEPTA trolley car and a CSX train, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report.

Six people aboard the trolley, including the operator, suffered non life-threatening injuries in the collision, which occurred Dec 9, 2021, in Darby, Pennsylvania.

The NTSB report said the trolley was traveling southeast en route to a station in center city Philadelphia at 13th and Market streets.

The trolley stopped at Main Street and 6th to board and discharge passengers and began to proceed toward the Darby Diamond crossing with CSX.

Although the trolley stopped for the crossing, the gates at the crossing came down on the trolley’s roof and the trolley was close enough to the CSX tracks to be pushed back by the freight train. The trolley did not derail in the process.

The NTSB report said investigators examined the grade crossing, conducted track and equipment inspections, reviewed signal and train control data logs, conducted interviews and obtained image and event recorder data from the lead locomotive of the CSX train and the SEPTA trolley.

NTSB officials said the investigation is continuing and will focus on grade-crossing design, operations and human performance.

NTSB Faults Warning System in SEPTA Accident

December 4, 2021

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation has faulted a warning system for playing a role in a 2019 subway accident in Philadelphia that killed a worker and injured another.

A northbound Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority train on the Broad Street subway line struck track workers in late afternoon on July 8, 2019.

In its report, NTSB said use of a train approach warning method to warn the workers of approaching traffic led to the accident.

The system involves having a worker watch for approaching traffic. At the time of the accident, a southbound train was approaching at the same time as the northbound train.

The NTSB reported noted that trains were approaching the work site at full speed. Trains were not required to operate at restricted speed through the work site.

SEPTA has since changed its maintenance practices to ban non-emergency track work during peak operating periods in the morning and late afternoon.

It now prohibits the use of the train approach warning system for minor track work and dictated that such work will occur when trains are not operating, when a track can be taken out of service, or when a work zone can be established.

NTSB Calls for Transit Railcar Wheel Inspections

December 3, 2021

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on public transit agencies to inspect the wheels of their rail transit cars to ensure that they meet gauge specifications.

The advisory was sent in the wake of a derailment of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority train in October that resulted in a passenger being taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries.

The federal safety agency said inspections have found wheels on some WMATA rail cars had moved outward from their mounted position on the axle.

“The safety alert identifies the issue of wheel set movement on transit rail cars and commuter railroads as a serious problem that has the potential to create a catastrophic event,” said Robert Hall, director of the NTSB Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations.

NTSB officials said in a news release that an out-of-specification wheel set is not easily identifiable with a routine visual inspection. Consequently, the condition could exist on wheel and axle assemblies of other transit or commuter rail cars.

NTSB Wants Changes in Track Protection

October 1, 2021

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.

Homendy Becomes NTSB Chair

August 18, 2021

Jennifer Homendy has become the 15th chair of the National Transportation Safety Board.

She joined the transportation safety agency on Aug. 20, 2018, after spending 14 years as the Democratic staff director of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

She previously held various positions with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, and the American Iron and Steel Institute. She is the fourth woman to lead the NTSB and one of 11 women who have served as board members.

Homendy succeeds Robert Sumwalt, who retired last month.