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rate of derailments per million train-miles increased from 4.57 in 1961 to 7.39 in 1966, up 61.7 percent.
The study also reports, and I quote, “The railroad accident picture is extremely serious. Furthermore, higher speeds, longer and heavier trains, and the growing carriage of deadly and hazardous materials may well increase the already serious consequences of unsafe practices."
Another quote, “Increased attention to accident investigations, and the issuance of more published accident investigation reports, are several possibilities.” And concluding the quote, “We are aware that the current regulatory authority does not encompass many areas related to the causes of many railroad accidents. Our concern about the state of railroad operations, vis-a-vis safety, was indicated in the recommendations accompanying our report on the railroad collision in New York City, where we stated that there is clear need for a reappraisal of a self-assessment and corrective action by the railroad industry. We believe that the primary responsibility for improved railroad safety should rest upon railroad management and railroad labor.
“However, we reiterate here that if it appears that they can't or will not accept the challenge promptly to arrest the worsening railroad accident picture, consideration should be given to supporting the proposed Federal legislation, which would provide additional safety regusation authority for the Department of Transportation in the railroad safety field.”
The CHAIRMAN. Is that the complete text? Mr. CROTTY. I have handed the reporter the complete text, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Fine. I don't want anything too large, but that looks fine. Mr. CROTTY. Thank you. (The document referred to follows:)
NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD NEWS RELEASE, APRIL 10, 1968
The National Transportation Safety Board today released the attached Safety Recommendation to the Federal Railroad Administration outlining ways and means to improve railroad safety.
NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD,
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION,
Washington, D.C., April 3, 1968. Hon. A. SCHEFFER LANG, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. LANG: The National Transportation Safety Board's review of data covering the last several years for train accidents shows progressively worsening trends in rates, occurrences, deaths, and damage. Furthermore, and especially disturbing, many train accidents in recent years have involved hazardous or poisonous materials, resulting in fires, or the escape of poisonous or hazardous materials followed by evacuation of populated areas. The latter collateral factors, coupled with a rising accident rate, increase the probability of catastrophic occurrences.
Total train accidents ? increased from 4,149 in 1961 to 6,793 in 1966, up 63.7%, and according to preliminary figures increased to 7,089 in 1967, up 71% over 1961. Train accidents per million train-miles increased from 7.09 in 1961 to 11.29 in 1966, up 59.2%. Deaths in train accidents increased from 158 to 214, or by 35.4%. Reported loss and damage to lading in train accidents (which excludes rough handling) increased from $9.3 million to $18.6 million during the 1961–1966 period, or up 100%; such loss and damage was up from $15,800 to $30,900 per
1 Excludes train-service and non-train accidents.
million train-miles, or up 95.6%. Track and equipment damage reported in train accidents increased from $50.4 million to $99.0 million, up almost 100%; such track and equipment damage was up from $86,200 to $164,500 per million trainmiles, or up 90.9%.
Derailments, the single most important cause of train accidents, increased from 2,671 in 1961 to 4,447 in 1966, up 66.5%, and the rate of derailments per million train-miles increased from 4.57 in 1961 to 7.39 in 1966, up 61.7%. Derailments, as the largest single cause of the 6,793 train accidents in 1966, accounted for 4,447 or about 65% of all train accidents in 1966, and over 80% of the damage to track and equipment. Collisions, the next most frequent cause, accounted for 1,552 or 23% of 1966 train accidents.
The Interstate Commerce Commission's "Accident Bulletin", now under jurisdiction of the Federal Railroad Administration, reflects in detail the primary causes of derailments, comparing 1961 with 1966. (See Exhibit A.) Defects in or improper maintenance of way and structures accounted for 21.6% of all derailments in 1961 and this increased to 31.2% in 1966. Further, both in numbers and in proportion of total derailments, those caused by defects in or improper maintenance of way and structures have become an increasingly significant factor in derailments, increasing by 140% and by 44.5%, respectively. Defects in or failure of equipment, on the other hand, though still the largest group of causes of derailments, had declined as a proportion of derailment causes from 47.5% in 1961 to 34.9% in 1966. Derailments charged to negligence of employees accounted for 12.3% of all derailments in 1961 and 12.4% in 1966, almost the same proportion, although the number of derailments caused by employee negligence increased by 68.1%.
Statistics as to derailments resulting from defects in or improper maintenance of way and structures, which resulted in train accidents, are set forth in detail in Exhibit B. It clearly shows how progressively deteriorating track conditions are causing derailments.
The railroad accident picture is extremely serious. Furthermore, higher speeds, longer and heavier trains, and the growing carriage of deadly and hazardous materials may well increase the already serious consequences of unsafe practices.
We are sure you are aware of the disquieting picture described in this letter, and concur in the view we hold that every reasonable step be taken to arrest and reverse the trend toward increasing incidence of train accidents. Recognizing that there are limits both to your resources and your authority, nonetheless we recommend that all available resources at your disposal be applied to reverse these accident trends. Increased attention to accident investigations and the issuance of more published accident investigation reports are several possibilities; others are increased inspections addressed to the worst areas of accident cause and to railroads where a disproportionate number of accidents occur.
Collaterally, we recommend that the Federal Railroad Administration initiate studies which would go beyond the data provided in current accident reports, with particular attention being given to derailments. Studies should include such factors as level of maintenance, types of inspection techniques used by railroads, influence of operating rules on accident causation, and employee responsibility for unsafe practices. Other areas deserving of attention or review include the use and value of railroad employee safety incentives, research and development to determine how management and employees, individually or jointly, can improve safety techniques and reduce accidents, and the possible borrowing and adaptation of successful safety practices from other transportation modes. The results of such studies should lead to initiation of new or augmented action programs by FRA to improve railroad safety.
We are aware that current regulatory authority does not encompass many areas related to the causes of many railroad accidents. Our concern about the state of railroad operations vis-a-vis safety was indicated in the recommendations accompanying our report on the railroad collision in New York City, where we stated that there is clear need for a reappraisal, a self-assessment and corrective action by the railroad industry.
We believe that the primary responsibility for improved railroad safety should rest upon railroad management and labor. However, we reiterate here that if it appears that they cannot or will not accept the challenge promptly to arrest the worsening railroad accident picture, consideration should be given to supporting or proposing Federal legislation which would provide additional safety regulatory authority for the Department of Transportation in the railroad safety field. Sincerely,
JOSEPH J. O'COXNELL, Jr., Chairman. Enclosures.
Proportion Number of of total Number of of total Number of of total derailments derailments derailments derailments derailments derailments (percent)
Mr. CROTTY. In view of the foregoing clear-cut statement, why, it may be asked, has legislation of this kind never been passed by Congress?
This legislation has been strongly opposed by the railroads, who have attempted to obscure the primary and important safety features by charging that it is a make-work device.
When a serious railroad accident occurs, there is usually a widespread clamor in the State or community concerned for something to be done to prevent the recurrence of such an incident. When the tumult dies down, however, little or nothing is done in the absence of a governing law.
There are many unsafe conditions on the railroads and safety laws that would be instrumental in revealing and bringing about a correction of these conditions are badly needed.
This is borne out by experience in the States where complaints filed with the appropriate commission have unearthed hundreds of cases of prevailing unsafe conditions which the state body has ordered corrected. The failure of nearly all States, however, to enter this field has made the control of unsafe conditions on the railroad by a Federal agency essential.
Yet at the present time in only four States, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York do we have anything approaching effective means of bringing about a safer condition of tracks and bridges.
Accidents resulting from defective or improperly maintained tracks, bridges, or other facilities are numerous. In order to impress upon you
the fact that this is a major problem, I need only refer to a few recent railroad accidents, of which there are about 7,000 annually, that could
randfshould have been, a Louisville 31 passe
On June 26, 1967, à Louisville & Nashville rairoad passenger train derailed resulting in the injury of 31 passengers and employees. This was one of the few accidents investigated by the FRĀ Bureau of Safety and it found that the accident was caused by a broken rail.
On August 4, 1967, a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train derailed resulting in the injury of 20 passengers and employees. The accident was caused by an inadequately maintained track.
On August 15, 1967, a Northern Pacific Railroad Co. freight train struck a track motor car, resulting in the death of two maintenanceof-way employees. The Board found that the track motor car was without protection against such a collision.
I will not burden the committee with more examples. Suffice it is to say the time for better safety is now. Detailed information on these accidents is available to the Department of Transportation and can govern it in determining the rules and regulations to be adopted under the authority granted by the proposed legislation.
One very important point which I think must be emphasized is that under the present law investigations are made only after an accident has occurred.
The Department of Transportation can take no preventive action. The proposed legislation, would empower it to take appropriate steps to unearth unsafe conditions and thus help prevent railroad accidents.
A discussion of the safety of railroad tracks and bridges invariably raises this question:
Are the railroads' facilities being undermaintained? The railroads contend that they are not, but they admit that a tremendous amount of maintenance is being “deferred."
For example, preliminary figures indicate that class I railroads inserted 400,000 tons of new rail in existing tracks in 1967. This was a drop of over 200,000 tons, or 33.9 percent, compared with 605,338 tons of new rail laid in 1966.
Near the end of 1966, 36 railroads furnished figures to Railroad Age, which is a railroad house organ, showing the number of railroad ties each railroad expected to insert in trackage for renewal purposed in 1967.
An examination of the figures showed that only nine of the railroads equalled or exceeded their earlier projections.
According to the Association of American Railroads, class I railroads, in the first 9 months of 1967—the latest figures which we havedisbursed the same amount of money for property maintenance at the same level that has prevailed for some time.
The same amount of money being spent despite increases in the cost of manpower and materials obviously means less and, therefore, ineffective maintenance.
When does long-deferred maintenance become undermaintenance ? The line of demarcation is very thin and difficult to define.
If the policy of deferral is continued, a point is eventually reached where the safe condition of tracks and structures is seriously affected. In our opinion, that point has been reached on many railroads.
Another aspect which must be considered is the policy of the railroads to base maintenance expenditures not upon need but upon their financial condition. Railroad maintenance officers who wish to remain anonymous have stated that when they receive their budget for the year covering track and bridge maintenance they try to use it as quickly as possible for fear that it may later be reduced. It is obvious that an effective and adequate maintenance program cannot be carried out under such conditions. Yet gearing maintenance to finances is almost a universal practice in the railroad industry.
Commenting on the tremendous maintenance savings enjoyed by the railroads over a 10-year period, the February 1964 issue of Railway Track and Structures (p. 8) had these questions to ask:
Where, then, did the bulk of the savings come from? Did it come about as a result of the accumulation of deferred maintenance? If so, would it not be wise to put some of the "savings" back into the properties?
It also makes the following comments: The planning of track programs today seems to be widely conditioned by a type of thinking that considers only the minimal requirements.
Frequently, decisions seem to be based on the approach, "how little can we get by with ?" rather than, “how much is needed ?"
These quotations from an organ of the railroad industry leave little doubt that it is the general consensus that the railroads are in the marginal area, if not below, from the standpoint of maintenance.
It is axiomatic that railroad tracks, bridges, and other structures cannot be properly maintained without an adequate force of trained employees. Table 8 in the supplementary statement prepared by Mr. Winfield Homer and submitted for the record by Mr. Chesser shows the almost unbelievable reduction in the number of maintenance-ofway employees on class I railroads from 1950 to 1967. It will be noted that during this 17-year span, over three out of every five jobs have been abolished.
The heavily reduced forces in the maintenance-of-way department mean, in relative terms, that today, as compared to 1950, less than twofifths the number of employees are traveling over the right-of-way in the course of their work and are in a position to spot any unsafe condition.
Moreover, the increasing use of highway trucks by the railroads to replace track motor cars means that of this greatly reduced number of employees, fewer are traveling over the tracks in the course of their work. Thus, an unsafe or hazardous condition is less likely to be spotted today than at any time in modern railroad history.
Table I at the end of my statement shows the maintenance-of-way hours of service per mile of road on class I railroads and the average miles of road operated per employee for selected years from 1922 to 1966.
It will be noted that as late as 1950 class I railroads operated 2.13 miles of road for each section man (trackman) but that by 1966, this figure had almost quadrupled to 8.21.
The figure is even higher today. The old yardstick of one man for each mile of track has long since fallen by the wayside.
Table 3 of Mr. Homer's memorandum shows the heavy reduction in the past decade in the number of wooden crossties installed and the tons of rail laid by class I railroads.