NTSB calls for recorders, signage to improve rail safety
A Dec. 2013 train derailment that killed four people and injured dozens of others has produced a flurry of safety recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is calling for the use of inward and outward facing audio and image recorders, among other things.
"The images and audio captured by recorders can be invaluable to our investigators,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Understanding what is happening inside the cab just prior to a crash can provide crucial information about how to prevent future accidents.”
A derailment in the Bronx
That, as well as a call for the installation of approach permanent speed restrictions signs along the right-of-ways arose from the ongoing investigation into the derailment of a Metro-North passenger train in Bronx, New York in which a southbound train, consisting of seven passenger cars and one locomotive, derailed on the Metro-North Hudson Line near Spuyten Duyvil Station, causing four fatalities and multiple injuries.
The NTSB has been advocating for inward and outward facing recorders for investigation and oversight purposes since 2007 and has previously made recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration and other railroads regarding the matter.
Speed signage insufficient
Investigators have learned that while Metro-North had posted signs for temporary speed restrictions throughout its rail property, it did not use signage for permanent speed restriction areas including the area where the accident occurred. Since the accident, Metro-North has installed signage to aid operating crews at four locations with permanent speed restrictions, including the derailment area. However, the NTSB believes that Metro-North should use a more systematic approach and install signage at all locations where permanent speed restrictions are in place.
The full safety recommendation letter is available at www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2014/R-14-007-009.pdf