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questions. In any event, resolution of the question might be helped by inclusion of an explanatory statement in the legislative history accompanying any final legislation. Trusting that the above answers your inquiries of May 23, I am, Sincerely yours,
AL H. CHEBSER,
Chairman, RLEA Safety Committee. (Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, May 23, 1968.)
FEDERAL STANDARDS FOR RAILROAD SAFETY
THURSDAY, MAY 23, 1968
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, 'D.C. The committee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 2123, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Harley 0. Staggers (chairman) presiding
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order for the continuation of H.R. 16980, and related bills.
Our first witness this morning will be Mr. Harold Crotty. I am hopeful that we can complete Mr. Crotty's testimony, and perhaps some of the others so that we can get on to Mr. Menk if we can, of the Association of American Railroads. Unfortunately for our schedule the House convenes at 11 a.m.
Mr. Crotty, you may proceed. Would you identify all the gentlemen with you, for the record, please.
STATEMENT OF HAROLD C. CROTTY, PRESIDENT, BROTHERHOOD
OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES; ACCOMPANIED BY WINFIELD M. HOMER, ECONOMIST; SHELDON BERNSTEIN, COUNSEL; AND ERNEST H. BENSON, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVE
Mr. CROTTY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I would be glad to. I am accompanied here at the table by our economist, Mr. Homer; our counsel, Mr. Bernstein, and by our national legislative representative, Mr. Benson.
My name is Harold C. Crotty. I am president of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees with headquarters
The CHAIRMAN. Before you start, sir, may I'interrupt you?
The CHAIRMAN. I understood that you do have a full statement, and that you were going to summarize it. Is this true?
Mr. CROTTY. My statement is relatively short, Mr. Chairman. I did intend to read it.
The CHAIRMAN. That is all right. Go ahead.
Mr. CROTTY. My headquarters in Detroit, Mich., is at 12050 Woodward Avenue. Our brotherhood represents the employees who build, repair, and maintain the tracks, bridges, and other structures on all major railroads in the United States and on most of the smaller lines.
I do appreciate this opportunity to appear before you in support of this legislation. In my statement, I shall confine myself to three areas of railroad safety thắt would be affected by passage of this bill: (1) the regular inspection of tracks, bridges, and structures of the railroads to insure that they are maintained in safe condition; (2) the providing of adequate fagging protection from moving trains for employees working on tracks and bridges; and (3) the transportation of employees.
TRACK AND BRIDGE INSPECTION Inasmuch as the employees represented by our organization are those who maintain the carriers tracks and bridges, I am making these comments in their behalf. In addition, I am testifying in the interests of the traveling public and other railroad workers whose lives are endangered by unsafe conditions of roadway.
The proposed legislation gives the Department of Transportation needed authority in areas of railroad safety. Legislation dealing directly with railroad track and bridge inspection has been before Congress at various times through the years.
There has never been any question concerning the extreme desirability of legislation prescribing authority over railroad track and bridge inspection. In a letter dated February 9, 1935, addressed to the Honorable Burton K. Wheeler, chairman, Committee on Interstate Commerce, U.S. Senate, expressing the views of the legislative committee of the Interstate Commerce Commission on S. 543, introduced in the Senate on January 10, 1935, Mr. Frank McManary, chairman of the legislative committee of the Commission, said:
The purpose of the bill is desirable : Federal inspection of tracks and bridges, and Federal supervision of maintenance practices of the carriers, could bring about material improvement in the condition of tracks and bridges, which would increase safety of railroad operation.
Investigation of railroad accidents by our Bureau of Safety has disclosed conditions of tracks and bridges which should have been discovered and corrected before attention was directed to them by the occurrence of an accident.
Federal inspection might have disclosed such conditions, and the fact that tracks and bridges, as well as methods followed by carriers in their inspection and maintenance practices, were subject to Federal supervision, would be powerful incentive to responsible officers to see to it that tracks and bridges were maintained in proper condition.
The need is even greater today. As evidenced by the National Transportation Safety Board release on April 10, 1968, the frequency of train accidents is increasing at an alarming rate. The current Federal regulatory authority does not encompass many areas related to the causes of many railroad accidents, and therefore the Department of Transportation does not have sufficient tools with which to correct the problem.
The release shows that total train accidents have increased from 4,149 in 1961, to 6,793 in 1966, up to 63.7 percent, and according to preliminary figures increased to 7,089 in 1967, up 71 percent over 1961.
Train accidents per million train miles increased 59.1 percent during the same time periods. With the chairman's permission, I would like to read briefly from the report and ask that the text of the April 10 release by the National Transportation Safety Board be inserted into the record. (See p. 151.)
I would like to quote, Mr. Chairman, just briefly, and then ask that it be inserted in its entirety in the record.
Derailments, the single most important cause of train accidents, increased from 2,671 in 1961 to 4,447 in 1966, up 66.5 percent, and the
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.O.
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 $18.8 million during the 1961–1966 period, or up 100%; such loss and damage was up from $15,800 to $30,800 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'CONNELL, Jr., Chairman. Enclosures.