Root-Cause Accident Investigations

The first step in accident prevention and safety improvement is the positive identification of the primary and contributing causal factors associated with every accident or near-miss. GE Safety Associate staff have decades of experience in the investigation of hundreds of railroad, light-rail transit, commuter rail accidents involving operating rules compliance, rail equipment, human factors, signal systems, maintenance of way engineering and hazardous materials. GE Safety Associates staff developed the root-cause accident investigation process used by the California Public Utilities Commission railroad safety division, and have been a party to many accident investigations involving the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). GE Safety Associates is currently involved in a safety research project sponsored by Veolia Transportation and the FRA at the Volpe Center for Transportation Studies in Cambridge, MA (Insert video link here). The study, conceived and designed by GE Safety Associates, is evaluating the effects of distraction on locomotive engineers, and will eventually result in sustained attention training that will be available for the benefit of the entire transportation community.

Lead inspector/contributing inspector in the following major accident investigations and assessments:

  • SPTCo. 1994 Train Dispatcher Assessment, Denver - At the request of the FRA, staff participated in a team safety assessment that Identified inefficient personnel utilization, poor communication procedures and poor supervision as key safety issues. Carrier developed action plan.
  • BNSF/UP 1995 Cajon Grade Runaways - Following a series of uncontrolled movement of trains down the 3 ½% grade between Barstow and San Bernardino, conducted an assessment in partnership with the FRA. Recommendations included the installation of two-way rear end devices on all trains. Only the BNSF voluntarily adopted staff’s advice.
  • BNSF/UP 1996 Cajon Grade Runaway Derailments - Following catastrophic rail accidents involving loss of life, millions of dollars in property damage, evacuations and major interstate highway closures, FRA joined staff in another major safety assessment involving a team of over 60 certified rail inspectors from throughout the US. Recommendations again included the installation of two-way rear end devices on all trains, and all carriers voluntarily adopted this practice. This recommendation was subsequently codified into a federal regulation in 1997 contained in CFR parts 232.21 & 232.23.
  • UPRR 1997 Harriman Dispatching Center Train Dispatcher Assessment, Omaha - At the request of the FRA, participated in a team safety assessment following the fatal collision of two UP freight trains in Devine, TX. The team Identified inadequate dispatcher training and supervision, and ineffective train dispatching procedures as key issues.
  • UPRR 1998 Beaumont Hill Runaway derailment - Staff responded to a series of uncontrolled movements including a high-speed runaway derailment near Redlands that destroyed 13 locomotives and both main tracks. Staff identified employee training and management shortages as causal factors. The carrier responded with an action plan.
  • Amtrak 1999 Fullerton impact collision - Staff investigated the accident which occurred when the locomotive engineer of an eastbound Metrolink commuter train failed to stop short of restrictive signal indications and collided with a westbound BNSF freight train traversing a crossover to an adjacent track. 28 passengers aboard the Metrolink train were injured. Staff worked with the carrier to develop fatigue counter-measures.
  • California Statewide Train Dispatcher Assessment - Evaluate train dispatching facilities within the state of California and offer recommendations to carriers. In response to staff recommendations in 1999, UP spent over $150,000 in the LA basin to improve radio communications by upgrading radio transmission sites.
  • Angels Flight Railway Accident - Investigator in charge of staff investigation of the February 1, 2001 accident that resulted in one fatality and eight injuries to passengers. Investigative analysis determined the system had not been built in compliance with existing industry standards which contributed to the ultimate mechanical failures resulting in the accident. Recommendations include new regulations for the safety certification of transit systems that ultimately were approved by the Commission. CPUC investigation submission forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board in August, 2002.
  • Metrolink-BNSF Placentia Impact Accident - Investigator in Charge of staff investigation of the May 2002 accident that resulted in three fatalities and numerous injuries to passengers. Investigation analysis is focusing on human factor/fatigue issues.
  • Metrolink-UPRR Chatsworth Impact Accident-Chief representative for CPUC, supervised staff investigation of the XX/XX/2008 accident that resulted in 27 fatalities. official party to the NTSB investigation.

GE-Safety Associates, LLC has the necessary in-house resources that will expedite safety problem resolution, and establish a successful path-forward toward reduced accident/injuries and establishing a consistent record of regulatory compliance. Our research and affiliations with various regulatory entities assures effective communication with the appropriate personnel, and brings a level of credibility established through years of working relationships at the state and federal level.

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