Management & Operations

Positive train control urged in NTSB report on 2002 crash

Posted on August 1, 2003

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of the April 23, 2002, collision of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) freight train and a Metrolink commuter train in Placentia, Calif., was the freight train crew’s inattentiveness to the signal system and their failure to observe, recognize and act on the approach signal. Contributing to the accident was the absence of a positive train control (PTC) system that would have automatically stopped the freight train short of the stop signal. Additionally, if the BNSF conductor had been more actively involved in monitoring the signals, he may not have misidentified an approach signal as clear, the NTSB found. “This accident, which happened during rush hour on a commuter route, illustrates how each employee is responsible for safety and how implementation of new technology can save lives,” said NTSB Chair Ellen G. Engleman. As a result of the accident, there were two fatalities and 22 serious injuries. In all, 162 people were taken to the hospital. “The safety board has issued recommendations on PTC since 1969. The technology these systems provide are the best approach to reducing human-error collision,” Engleman said. Among the recommendations the NTSB issued as a result of the accident were one to BNSF to revise its signal awareness form procedure to require recording of time, speed and aspect name for all signals at the time they are encountered. The board also recommended that the American Association of Railroads report on the milestones and activities needed for completion of the interoperability standards for PTC systems and its priorities for completion of this effort. Interoperability is the capacity of a railroad’s PTC system to operate safely on other railroads. A synopsis of the Placentia rail accident investigation report, including the findings, probable cause and safety recommendations, can be found on the publication page of the NTSB’s Website at At press time, the complete report was not available.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Fla.'s HART to develop autonomous circulator route

The project would be one of the first of its kind in the U.S. utilizing autonomous technology and has the potential to become a genuine problem solver, according to FDOT and HART.

CTA's 2017 budget includes no fare increases, service cuts for 8th year

Long-term deals on fuel and increased non-fare revenue have helped CTA cope with reduced funding from the state and a decline in ridership, which fell to just under 500 million in 2016.

SORTA to sell advertising to pay for bus benches

In a separate ordinance, the city agreed to stop removing currently illegal benches at some stops unless they are unsafe.

Future for connected cars is promising, obstacles remain: study

Obstacles include privacy and security concerns, to a lack of infrastructure and the need for a legislative framework.

Caltrain begins courtesy campaign via social media

The campaign, called “Caltrain Manners,” is the result of a recent online survey, where passengers were asked what annoyed them most about their fellow riders. Caltrain tallied the results to determine the three worst passenger gaffes.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close