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(f) Report of failure of system, etc., and accidents.

Each carrier shall report to the Commission in such manner and to such extent as may be required by the Commission, failures of such systems, devices, or appliances to indicate or function as intended; and in case of accident resulting from failure of any such system, device, or appliance to indicate or function as intended, and resulting in injury to person or property which is reportable under the rules of the Commission, a statement forthwith must be made in writing of the fact of such accident by the carrier owning or maintaining such system, device, or appliance to the Commission; whereupon the facts concerning such accident shall be subject to investigation as provided in sections 40—42 of Title 45. (g) Duties and powers of Commission.

It shall be the duty of the Commission to see that the requirements of this section and the orders, rules, regulations, standards, and instructions made, prescribed, or approved hereunder are observed by carriers, and all powers granted prior to August 26, 1937, to the Commission are extended to it in the execution of this section. (h) Penalites; enforcement.

Any carrier which violates any provision of this section, or which fails to comply with any of the orders, rules, regulations, standards, or instructions made, prescribed, or approved hereunder shall be liable to a penalty of $100 for each such violation and $100 for each and every day such violation, refusal, or neglect continues, to be recovered in a suit or suits to be brought by the United States attorney in the district court of the United States having jurisdiction in the locality where such violations shall have been committed. It shall be the duty of such attorneys to bring such suits upon duly verified information being lodged with them showing such violations having occurred; and it shall be the duty of the Commission to lodge with the proper United States attorneys information of any violations of this section coming to its knowledge. (Feb. 4, 1887, ch. 104, pt. I. $ 25, formerly 8 26, as added Feb. 28, 1920, ch. 91. & 441, 41 Stat. 498, and amended Aug. 9, 1935, ch. 498, § 1, 49 Stat. 543; Aug. 26, 1937, ch. 818, 50 Stat. 835, renumbered Sept. 18, 1940, ch. 722, title I, § 14(b), 54 Stat. 919.)

MEDALS OF HONOR ACT (49 U.S.C. 1201-1203) $ 1201. Awards for acts of heroism involving railroads or motor vehicles.

The President of the United States is authorized to cause to be prepared bronze medals of honor, with suitable emblematic devices, which shall be bestowed upon any persons who shall, by extreme daring, endanger their own lives in saving, or endeavoring to save, lives from any wreck, disaster, or grave accident, or in preventing or endeavoring to prevent such wreck, disaster, or grave accident, upon any railroad within the United States engaged in interstate commerce or involving any motor vehicle on the public highways, roads, or streets of the United States: Provided, That no award of said medal shall be made to any person until sufficient evidence of his deserving shall have been furnished and placed on file, under such regulations as may be prescribed by the President of the United States. (Feb. 23, 1905, ch. 744, § 1, 33 Stat. 743; June 13, 1957, Pub. L. 85-50, $ 1(1), 71 Stat. 69.) $ 1202. Rosettes and ribbons; replacement.

The President of the United States is authorized to issue to any person to whom a medal of honor may be awarded under the provisions of section 1201 of this title a rosette or knot, to be worn in lieu of the medal, and a ribbon to be worn with the medal; said rosette or knot and ribbon to be each of a pattern to be prescribed by the President of the United States: Provided, That whenever a ribbon issued under the provisions of sections 1201-1203 of this title shall have been lost, destroyed, or rendered unfit for use without fault or neglect on the part of the person to whom it was issued, a new ribbon shall be issued to such person without charge therefor. (Feb. 23, 1905, ch. 744 , § 2, 33 Stat. 743.) $ 1203. Appropriation.

Appropriations for the Interstate Commerce Commission are made available for carrying out the provisions of sections 1201 and 1202 of this title. (Feb. 23, 1905, ch. 744, 83, 33 Stat. 743; June 13, 1957. Pub. L. 85-50, $ 1(2), 71 Stat. 69.)



My attention has been directed to a release of the Association of American Railroads dated May 8, 1968, claiming that the safety record of American railroads in that year was very good, and showed an improvement over other recent years. This manifestly self-serving and quite inaccurate claim has been made in the light of a safety record which, measured by all competent and meaningful standards, was deplorable.

The Association's claim was based on three statistical measures, as follows:

1). That the fatalities of passengers on the railroads declined in 1967 from the total experienced in 1966;

2) That the record level of train accidents was a statistical freak caused by the rising cost of railroad equipment; and

3) That employee fatalities when measured against the gross ton-miles handled declined in the latest years from levels of the recent past.

I shall comment briefly on all three of these absurd contentions.

First, as to passengerfatalities; the rceord for 1967 looks good only in comparison with 1966. Here are the figures for recent years:

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As these figures indicate, the 1967 passenger fatality rate per 100 million passenger miles is good only when compared with 1966 when a single accident on the Boston & Maine railroad killed il passengers and raised the total for that year substantially above the level for most other recent years. The 1967 rate is above the rates for 1963, 1964, and 1965, and not much below 1961. Most important, however, is the fact that an industry that killed 2,458 people in all classes last year should feature its passenger record of 13 fatalities as indicating an improvement in its safety record. Passenger deaths in recent years, of course, have declined as passenger service has been eliminated. If the present trends in passenger operations are continued, in a few years the railroads may have a perfect record in this department since they will have eliminated all passenger service.

Next, the A.A.R. contends that the rise in train accidents has been due primarily to the increase in the costs of equipment and materials. This is false. While there may be some marginal influence on the threshold of accident reportability due to rising costs, the magnitude of recent price increases cannot begin to explain the immense rise in train accidents. Here are the data of the Association of American Railroads on materials and supplies costs and the number of train accidents for recent years.

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Clearly, the increase in prices of materials the railroads buy can have had very little effect in increasing the number of reported train accidents. There was virtually no increase in such prices in the years 1961 through 1964; yet accidents increased very substantially. In the last three years, although prices have risen 6.6 per cent, the number of accidents rose 51.9 per cent. There may have been some small relationship here, but it certainly cannot explain the tremendous increase in accidents that occurred.

Lastly, the Association of American Railroads actually boasts of its employee safety record based on a statistical demonstration relating employee fatalities to gross ton-miles. This is a completely unreliable index. Employee casualty rates are uniformly computed on a basis of employee man-hours. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the computation of employee casualty rates as follows:

“The standard injury-frequency rate is defined as the average number of disabling work injuries for each million employee-hours worked. The lack of comparability inherent in simple injury totals, arising from variations in employment and operating time, is thus overcome by expressing the injuries in terms of a standard unit of exposure."

A key word in this statement is the term "exposure." The number of injuries is related to a standard expressing the opportunity or potential for injury-occurrence, or "exposure.” The standard unit measuring exposure or potential for industrial injuries or fatalities to workers is the man-hour, used in multiples of one million.

The railroads, so far as we have learned, are the first organization or institution to suggest that accident rates for railroad employees should be measured by the gross ton-miles hauled. Ton-miles may have some validity as a measure of exposure of tons of freight to loss and damage through accidents. So far as we have been able to determine, it has not even been used in that manner, but it may have been so used by carrier loss-and-damage experts. But, certainly no one has ever before used it as an exposure standard for worker injuries.

When we look at railroad employee fatalities measured by the appropriate exposure standard-per million man-hours, we have a very different picture.

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Except for the one year 1964, the 1967 fatality rate for employees was the worst in this whole period of years. * For reference the release from the Association of American Railroads follows. [News Service, Association of American Railroads, for release Wednesday, May 8, 1968)

WASHINGTON, May 8, 1968.--- Passenger fatalities on America's railroads were reduced by better than 50 percent in 1967, highlighting a drop in rail casualties in virtually all categories, the Department of Transportation's "Preliminary Report on Railroad Accidents and Resulting Casualties' reveals.

The preliminary report shows that railroads had only 13 passenger fatalities in 1967 compared to 27 the previous year. The fatality rate per 100 million passenger miles dropped from .16 in 1966 to .09 last year.

Both figures were well below averages for the last 10 years in both categories. And, while single-year passenger safety comparisons can be misleading, the railroads' outstanding record as the safest of all means of public transportation is a continuing story extending back over many years.

Fatalities during the last 10-year period averaged 23 per year while the rate per 100 million passenger miles was .12.

(Meanwhile, preliminary 1967 domestic air travel figures, issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, show the passenger fatality rate per 100 million

*Throughout this statement, comparisons have been confined only to the years, 1961 to 1967. Changes in the methods of reporting railroad accidents and casualties made effective in the year 1961 seriously impair the validity of any comparisons with earlier years.

passenger miles was .30. The 10-year average for the airlines is approximately .34 fatalities per 100 million passenger miles, compared to the railroads'.12. The latest 10-year figure for bus travel through 1966 shows an average of .18

per 100 million passenger miles. For automobiles and taxis combined, the rate is 2.34.)

"Measured by casualties, overall rail safety has shown continuing improvement during the last 10 years," Thomas M. Goodfellow, president of the Association of American Railroads, said. “But when property damage—and the effects of inflation--are introduced as a measuring device, it is made to appear that the safety record is worsening.

"That is the case in a statistical category listed as 'train accidents. Included in this category are all accidents involving more than $750 in damage to railroad property. With the higher costs of today's sophisticated equipment, a rough coupling of two freight cars can—and frequently does-show up in the statistics as a 'train accident.

"The truth is that, except for highway grade crossing accidents, the trend in casualties in railroad accidents of all kinds has been generally downward in spite of a steady increase in traffic. Last year, however, even the grade crossing accident trend was reversed, showing an 8.7 percent decrease compared to 1966.

Total railroad fatalities per billion gross ton-miles (excluding grade crossing accidents) declined from .59 in 1961 to .51 in 1967. And non-fatal injuries declined even more--from 16.70 to 12.38 percent per billion ton-miles.

During the decade, railroads and their employees showed substantial improvements in work safety, reducing fatalities to an all-time low in relation to traffic volume in 1966.

In that year the Class I railroads' fatality rate for employees on duty was .94 per 10 billion gross ton-miles, slightly better than the earlier record of .97 set in 1961. The rate last year was 1.02-third lowest in history.


This memorandum has been prepared to supplement the oral presentations made in behalf of the Railway Labor Executives' Association providing details on the safety record of the railroads as reflected in the statistics published by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The statistics pertinent to the railroads' safety record are appended to this statement in tables and charts which may be made a part of this record. The discussion will cover the following elements:

A. The accident experience of the carriers viewed in the light of technological and operational changes made over the last three decades;

B. The causes of railroad accidents today; and

C. The Human and Monetary Costs of Railroad Accidents. Railway safety is a critical American problem today. Over 2,600 persons were killed in railroad accidents in 1966. In the preceding five years, 1961 through 1965, 11,196 individuals were killed in railroad accidents. Compare those figures with the following:

1,346 fatalities occurred in accidents of certificated air carriers in the same five years;

5,945 fatalities occurred in all United States air accidents in that period; 9,236 deaths occurred in accidents involving motor carriers subject to ICC authority in the same years. Thus railroad accidents killed 8 times the number killed in accidents of air carriers and nearly twice the number killed in all flying, carrier and private. They killed about 2,000 more than were killed in motor carrier accidents.

All civil air activities are subject to controls by the Federal government; motor carrier safety problems also are under Federal authority; but, only a very small part of the many elements that influence railroad safety fall within Federal jurisdiction.


CHANGES IN RAILROAD TECHNOLOGY, OPERATIONS AND SAFETY, 1930 TO 1967 The notion that advances in railroad technology and related gains in operating efficiency have improved railroad safety is not true. Diesel locomotives, improved freight cars, heavier rail, signalling advances, automatic classification yards, and other changes over the years have enabled the trains to move faster, with

greater pay-loads of freight, and have reduced terminal delay time to some extent, but they have not made the railroads safer.

Some of the more important changes made in railroading over the last several decades are illustrated in statistics included in Tables 1 to 5 appended. These developments are so generally known that a detailed review of them need not be made orally. The statistics show the extent to which freight cars have been replaced, the substitution of diesel for steam motive power, the replacements of cross-ties and rail in the track, and some of the important signal and communication changes. Special attention is directed to the data on Table 3 showing the rail and cross-ties laid. These figures indicate a sharp decline in the total weight of rail laid and in both the number and percentage of cross-ties laid in replacement. The aggregate weight of rail laid in recent years was only about one-fifth that laid in 1930; and it was substantially below the weight installed even in the worst of the depression years. The same thing is true of cross-ties. In 1930, the railroads replaced about 6 percent of their cross-ties; in 1963, they replaced only 1.5 percent. It is true that the rail laid in recent years is of heavier gauge than in the distant past and that treating processes have extended the life of cross-ties. However, these improvements cannot explain the total decline in replacements indicated by the figures cited in Table 3.

Similarly, the carriers' record of equipment maintenance is clearly less than satisfactory. Statistics in Tables 6 and 7 show the defects uncovered by Interstate Commerce Commission inspectors in safety appliances and in locomotives. The percentage of defective freight cars is far greater than it was during the 1930's, and the proportion of diesel locomotives found to be defective is as great as that of steam locomotives in the 1930's.

The railroads have been unable to maintain their track and equipment largely because they have reduced their maintenance forces. Table 8 shows the trend of maintenance of way and maintenance of equipment employment from 1933 to 1967. Employment in both of these groups was at a very low level in the depression years, and the railroads entered World War II with a substantial burden of undermaintenance. By 1945, they had built their forces up to a more satisfactory level with maintenance of way employees at 300,000 and maintenance of equipment employees at just under 400,000. The record since that time is clear in the statistics shown in the Table. Maintenance of way employment has dropped under 91,000; maintenance of equipment employment has fallen below 139,000. Accepting the fact that maintenance methods have been mechanized and that newer equipment is stronger and more durable, such reductions in employment are manifestly excessive; they substantially explain why the railroads are undermaintained, and why they have become unsafe.

In addition to the problems induced by undermaintenance, other safety burdens have arisen in operations. Diesel locomotives and related improvements have in.creased the length and weight of trains and the speed of operations. These developments are evidenced in the statistics in Tables 9, 10 and 11. Such operating "improvements," which seem laudable from a viewpoint of service and economy, nevertheless have added safety problems in several ways. First, greater weights moving at faster speeds have increased track wear. Secondly, the strain on equipment has intensified. Lastly, faster speeds and longer trains have increased operating hazards. The jobs of all operating employees have become far more difficult and their responsibilities more critical.


The following discussion examines the safety experience of the railroads which accompanied the changes described above.

Changes in accident reporting rules and procedures of the Interstate Commerce Commission make it impossible to compare the current accident records with those of thirty and more years ago. The latest year for which valid comparisons with the 1930's can be made is 1956. Tables 12 and 13 show the trend of train accidents by groups of years which were selected by the Interstate Commerce Commission to provide comparisons of depression and pre-war years with wartime years and with the postwar experience up to 1956. The volume of operations as measured by locomotive and motor train-miles in the 1930's, was almost exactly the same as in the 1950's; therefore, a comparison between the 1930's and the 1950's is most meaningful.

1 Earliest year for which these figures are available.

: Operations' levels during the war and early postwar years were much higher than in either the thirties or the fifties ; also, the use in these periods of great numbers of anti

ly increased the number of accidents. Therefore, safety comparisons with these years are not especially significant.

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