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June 10, 2015

US FRA recommends actions to prevent speeding passenger trains

The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a safety advisory recommending actions that passenger railroads take to prevent trains from speeding.

The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a safety advisory recommending actions that passenger railroads take to prevent trains from speeding.

The FRA has recommended commuter railroads to look for sharp track curves and adjust their automatic train control safety systems to prevent trains from going too fast there.

In order to control passenger train speeds, railroads should immediately identify locations where there is a reduction of more than 20mph from the approach speed to a curve or bridge, and the maximum authorised operating speed for passenger trains at that curve or bridge.

"We will continue to take action in the coming weeks to prevent human error from causing accidents and to keep passengers safe on the nation’s railroads."

They should modify automatic train control (ATC) systems to ensure compliance with speed limits, as well as install additional wayside signage.

If ATC is not available, the train should have a crew member besides the engineer who is familiar with the route and briefings about where speeds are reduced.

According to the FRA, the second person should have to be in constant contact with the engineer.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "Today the FRA is taking a smart and targeted approach to addressing a major issue involved in recent passenger rail accidents.

"Safety is our top priority at the department, and today’s advisory is but one step we are taking to raise the bar on safety for passenger rail."

Additionally, the wayside signage will alert engineers and conductors of the maximum authorised passenger train speed throughout the passenger railroad’s system, with particular emphasis on additional signage at the identified locations.

FRA acting administrator Sarah Feinberg said: "The FRA fully expects passenger railroads to take immediate action and implement these recommendations.

"We will continue to take action in the coming weeks to prevent human error from causing accidents and to keep passengers safe on the nation’s railroads."

Separately, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced that MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA Metro-North Railroad are already in compliance with the recommendations made to all US passenger railroads by the FRA in its Safety Advisory 2015-03.

MTA chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said: "We acted quickly and decisively in to shore up a potential safety hazard as soon as it was identified by the FRA."

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