FRA proposes safety advisory for signal suspensions

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WASHINGTON — The Feb. 4 collision between Amtrak's Silver Star and a CSX Transportation freight train parked at Cayce, S.C., has led the Federal Railroad Administration to draft a safety advisory for cases when railroads temporarily take signal systems out-of-service.

Two Amtrak crew members were killed when a misaligned switch diverted their train from the main line to a siding where the CSX train was parked. Signals that could have alerted the Amtrak crew to the problem had been taken out-of-service so CSX workers could install positive train control components.

Shortly after the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board strongly recommended that the FRA develop such a safety advisory. In addition to the collision at Cayce, it cited a March 2016 accident when two Union Pacific trains collided near Granger, Wyo.

The FRA is requesting comments on a draft advisory it says will incorporate best practices the railroads already use when they take signals out-of-service. Those include revising operating rules that govern hand-thrown switches, putting signals back in operation as quickly as possible, and “avoiding any train meets or any moves requiring the manipulation of switches within the suspension limits.”

The deadline for comments is June 22.

More information is available online.
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