Rail

NTSB: Signal failure in D.C. crash, issues recs

Posted on September 23, 2009

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued nine safety recommendations, six of which are urgent, to address concerns about the safety of train control systems that use audio frequency track circuits.

 

The recommendations are the result of NTSB's ongoing investigation into the collision between two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) trains on the Red Line near the Fort Totten station in Washington, D.C., on June 22, 2009.

 

During the investigation, the NTSB discovered that a failure occurred in which a spurious signal generated by a track circuit module transmitter mimicked a valid signal and bypassed the rails via an unintended signal path. The spurious signal was sensed by the module receiver which resulted in the train not being detected when it stopped in the track circuit where the accident occurred. 

 

The NTSB made specific recommendations to Metro and to Alstom Signaling Inc., the manufacturer of the track circuit modules at the Fort Totten station, to examine the Metro track circuits and work together to eliminate adverse conditions that could affect the safe performance of these systems. Additionally, the NTSB called upon Metro to develop a program to periodically determine that the electronic components in its train control systems are performing within design tolerances.

 

Although the NTSB's investigation is not yet complete and no determination of probable cause has been reached, the NTSB is concerned about the safety of train control system circuitry used in comparable rail and transit operations in other parts of the country. Therefore, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) advise all rail transit operators and railroads that use audio frequency track circuits in their train control systems about these findings from the Fort Totten accident investigation.

 

The NTSB also recommended that the FTA and FRA have transit operators and railroads that use audio frequency track circuits examine their track circuits and work with their signal equipment manufacturer(s) to eliminate adverse conditions that could affect the safe performance of these systems, and to develop programs to periodically determine that the electronic components in their train control systems are performing within design tolerances.

 

"After only three months, this complex investigation is far from complete, so we are not ready to determine the probable cause of the accident on WMATA," said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "However, our findings so far indicate a pressing need to issue these recommendations to immediately address safety glitches we have found that could lead to another tragic accident on [Metro] or another transit or rail system."

 

In accordance with NTSB protocol, the letters were addressed to the heads of each organization with a request for a response from each organization within 30 days on the urgent recommendations, addressing the actions taken or planned in response to the Board's recommendations.

 

The safety recommendation letter to Metro may be found here: http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/2009/R09_15_16.pdf

 

The safety recommendation to Alstom Signaling Inc. may be found here: http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/2009/R09_23.pdf

 

The safety recommendations letter to FTA may be found here: http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/2009/R09_17_18_19.pdf

 

The safety recommendation letter to the FRA may be found here: http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/2009/R09_20_21_22.pdf

 

 

 

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

More News

Amtrak's microgrid to serve as backup during power outages

In the aftermath of the 2012 Superstorm Sandy, half of the Sunnyside Yard had to rely on portable backup generators for a month due to a damaged transmission line.

Detroit's M-1 begins testing streetcar line

The slow-moving "speeder" vehicle will travel the rail line as part of a testing regimen that ensures the route is free of obstructions.

Honolulu's rail executive director/CEO resigns

Dan Grabauskas will be paid the final year of contract as part of the separation agreement, a total of $282,250. The board appointed HART board member Mike Formby as acting CEO, effective immediately.

Sound Transit adding cell service in light rail tunnels

Cell service providers in Seattle can access the system through license agreements with Mobilitie, which is funding and maintaining the network under an agreement with Sound Transit.

Bombardier confirms maintenance contract in Germany

The contract covers maintenance of 257 TWINDEXX Vario double-deck coaches and TRAXX locomotives.

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

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

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