Less Than 1% Of Train Accidents Brake Related?

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Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:05 PM
So is giving a conductor a bag with 800 wheel chocks to properly secure a 100 car train not a good idea?
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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:22 PM

BaltACD
 
Euclid
 
Electroliner 1935

Euclid, have you ever done anything that was against the rules and was succesful and thought the rule didn't provide you with a means to achive what you needed to do without violating it? It's like being asked "HAVE YOU STOPPED BEATING YOUR WIFE? YES OR NO" 

So you have stated that the rule says don't apply hand brakes on empty cars and run in a train. And that hand brakes must be applied to secure a train on a grade when there is insuffient air to maintain a train on a grade. And that hand brakes can not be released on a moving train. And that releasing hand brakes on a stopped train with insufficient motive power to keep the train from rolling after a number of hand brakes are released is a receipe for problems, What do you suggest a crew is to do? 

I don't know why hand brakes were left applied on an empty car but it appears that occurred. It has not been determined that that was the cause of the derailment. Should the train been put out on the rails as it was.I think not. I think it was an accident waiting to happen and it did. I also suspect that many times, trains like it have succesfully gotten over the road and so the practice of sending high tunnage trains down grades continues. If you watch the video

might. 

It appears that nothing about operating the train that derailed at Hyndman was against the rules, except possibly leaving handbrakes applied on one or more empty cars.  I understand that brakes were left applied on 58 cars once the train restarted down the grade.  I understand that this was done because the second crew thought that the train might still have air brake issues.  I interpret that to mean that the second crew was not willing to completely trust that air brakes would perform properly, so the left handbrakes applied on 58 cars to provide supplemental braking effort in case the air brakes were not capable of providing their normal braking effort.  I do not know if this was decided solely by the crew or approved by someone higher. 

I do not know if the crew was put into a situation that they could not handle, as you say.  I don’t think it is obvious that they were.  I do not know if leaving 58 handbrakes applied contributed to the derailment.  I have speculated that the derailment may have been caused by excessive dynamic braking that may have been performed in overcompensating for lowering the reliance on air braking.  It is just a wild guess, but the derailment did occur just after the engineer reduced power and began dynamic braking; and there is also evidence that the derailment was caused by excessive buff force which can be produced by excess dynamic braking. 

Regarding the question of what the crew should have done if they had been placed in a dilemma of whether to handle a train that may be unsafe.  I do not know if the train was unsafe or if the crew believed they were in a dilemma.  I do not know if this was “an accident waiting to happen.”  But if the crew believed that the train was not safe to run, they should have refused to run it—even without a rule prohibiting running with handbrakes.  If there had been such a rule, and the crew felt the train was unsafe to run, I believe it would be a very bad move to decide that breaking the rule was justified because there was no ready alternative, and the train must move.  If a crew were faced with that kind of dilemma, then they should have someone higher up make the decision.  When in doubt, take the safest course. 

 

Train make up was the proximate cause of the derailment and rules (or Special Instructions) were violated.  Special instructions do not permit the moving of EMPTY cars with hand brakes applied.  The head end of the train that derailed had a high percentage of empty cars in the head end 58 cars which had hand brakes applied.

Gravity is a fearsome enemy when it comes to moving tonnage trains down mountains.

 

I did hear about train make up being an issue.  Did the train make up actually violate any rule or special instruction, or was it just less than ideal?  I understand that the empties with handbrakes applied do violate special instructions.  But in any case, do we know that the train make up or the handbrakes applied on empties actually caused the derailment?  While these may be likely causes, I understand that the cause has not yet been determined. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:51 PM

Euclid
I did hear about train make up being an issue.  Did the train make up actually violate any rule or special instruction, or was it just less than ideal?  I understand that the empties with handbrakes applied do violate special instructions.  But in any case, do we know that the train make up or the handbrakes applied on empties actually caused the derailment?  While these may be likely causes, I understand that the cause has not yet been determined. 

CSX does have a rule that, unless it is a train of empty cars, you are not permitted to have 30 or more empties together in a train where there are 10 or more load cars in any position following the empties.

Yardmasters, especially in flatland areas, like to 'skirt' the rule by building a train with 29 empties, a load and 29 more empties.  I don't know the specific makeup of the train that derailed, however, all the information I recieved from my contacts indicated that the derailed train was assembled in a similar manner and most of the loads were on the rear of the train.  As I have stated, gravity is a tireless and unrelenting opponent in getting trains down grades safely.

Regarding Retainers - as note in the 1955 TTSI's they are to be used on LOADS.

I am certain the cause has been identified - it hasn't been published outside the senior levels of the company.  Need to know, and the public really doesn't need to know as they would not understand it anyway.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:52 PM

rdamon
So is giving a conductor a bag with 800 wheel chocks to properly secure a 100 car train not a good idea?
Geeked

On CSX, T&E personnel are prohibited by rule from placing chocks on equipment.

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:58 PM

BaltACD
I am certain the cause has been identified - it hasn't been published outside the senior levels of the company. Need to know, and the public really doesn't need to know as they would not understand it anyway.

I thought the NTSB is investigating that derailment.  Won't they reveal the details of the cause?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 9:01 PM

Euclid
 
BaltACD
I am certain the cause has been identified - it hasn't been published outside the senior levels of the company. Need to know, and the public really doesn't need to know as they would not understand it anyway. 

I thought the NTSB is investigating that derailment.  Won't they reveal the details of the cause?

maybe in a year or two

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, October 12, 2017 11:00 PM

Since we have moved on to steep gradients, I looked up the Sand Patch grade on Wikipedia. It indicates that the overall grade averages out at 1% (what we call 1 in 100) with a length of 2% (1 in 50) contained within.

There have been two recent runaways In Australia on the Moss Vale-Unanderra line. The last ten miles of this line are 3.3% (1 in 30) and maybe a third of the country's grain exports descend this grade loaded.

Retainers are called "grade control valves" in Australia and these were a near universal fitment but have been superseded in recent years by chokes which simply slow down the release of the brakes.

Half way down the grade is a "Brakes Landmark" a fixed indication signal consisting of a yellow triangle marked "brakes". A train is to stop at this point and recharge all the brake reservoirs before restarting down the hill.

In both cases of runaways, the train was descending under a combination of air and dynamic brakes and was fully under control at the brake landmark so the crew decided to continue without recharging the reservoirs. In both cases, after the air ran out, the dynamics could no longer hold the train and the train ran away. In both cases, nothing blocked the trains at the bottom of the grade but they both overran absolute signals by a considerable margin before stopping.

I have no information of ECP brakes on this line, but ECP trains run on the main West line which has a marginally easier 3% (1 in 33) descending grade between Katoomba and Valley Heights (about 18 miles). This is a much busier line with electric multiple unit passenger trains and no runaways have occurred here in some years. I only know of a brakes landmark at Katoomba, although there may have been one further down the grade.

I have spoken to the operators of the ECP brake coal train on that line, but all I heard from them was their enthusiasm for their recent GE AC traction locomotives, nothing about ECP, although they have run a double length train using wired distributed power with locomotives at front and rear.

Peter

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, October 13, 2017 7:19 AM

M636C

Since we have moved on to steep gradients, I looked up the Sand Patch grade on Wikipedia. It indicates that the overall grade averages out at 1% (what we call 1 in 100) with a length of 2% (1 in 50) contained within.

There have been two recent runaways In Australia on the Moss Vale-Unanderra line. The last ten miles of this line are 3.3% (1 in 30) and maybe a third of the country's grain exports descend this grade loaded.

Retainers are called "grade control valves" in Australia and these were a near universal fitment but have been superseded in recent years by chokes which simply slow down the release of the brakes.

Half way down the grade is a "Brakes Landmark" a fixed indication signal consisting of a yellow triangle marked "brakes". A train is to stop at this point and recharge all the brake reservoirs before restarting down the hill.

....

Peter

How much curvature is involved in these grades?

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Posted by M636C on Friday, October 13, 2017 8:59 PM

BaltACD

How much curvature is involved in these grades?

 
The longest straight section on the grade out of Unanderra is in the longer of the two tunnels on the grade. My diagrams show most of the curves as having a radius of ten chains. I'm sure that isn't a great help, even if I say that "one chain" is the length of a cricket pitch, which is 66 feet. Most of the length is a 10 chain curve in one direction followed by a 10 chain curve in the other direction.
 
I don't think I've seen radius used to measure curves in the USA, but I might be wrong...
 
Ten chains (660 feet) is the sharpest curve permitted on main lines and is extremely rare on any other lines.
 
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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, October 13, 2017 9:34 PM

I am not a Civil Engineer - in US railroads, curves are identified by the degree of curvature (and that is not directly related to 360 degrees completing a circle).  In mountanious territory on my former carrier the curves are identified as, for the most part, being between 6 and 10 degrees - what that is in a radius in feet I don't know.

Paul North or mudchicken are fluent in railroad engineering speak.

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Friday, October 13, 2017 10:20 PM

A quick and close approximation can be done with "Baldwin's Apprioimation Formula":

 

Radius = 5730 / Degrees_of_curature

 

So 6-Deg = approximately 955-ft radius

10-Deg = approx 573-ft radius

 

 

 

Semper Vaporo

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Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Friday, October 13, 2017 10:24 PM

M636C
Ten chains (660 feet) is the sharpest curve permitted on main lines and is extremely rare on any other lines.

Just a smidge under 8.7 degrees of curvature.

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, October 15, 2017 6:01 PM

BigJim
 
Euclid
One way of taking the risk out of re-starting is to use a number of handbrakes set to hold the train back somewhat at the starting upon release of the air brakes.  Ideally, the handbrakes would be released once the train is rolling under control of air brakes and dynamic brakes.  But there is no way to release the hand brakes once the train is moving.  One option would be to set the handbrakes so lightly that they could just drag without sliding wheels. But for proceeding with handbrakes set for supplementing air brakes, the handbrakes were probably set too tightly because they had been set originally for the purpose of securement.  So reducing their set would have required the task of releasing each handbrake and re-setting them to a lighter application.  CSX guidance on re-starting with handbrakes set was posted in one of the previous threads about this derailment, but it did not stipulate how tightly the handbrakes were to be set if used in this manner.  It did stipulate that no handbrakes be set on empties.  As I understand it, handbrakes were set on empties, which was okay for securement, but not for re-starting with handbrakes set.  We have not been told what role the set handbrakes played in this derailment, but it is possible that they directly caused the derailment by causing wheels to slide.  In any case, the use of handbrakes to aid in re-starting would have been unnecessary had the train been equipped with ECP brakes.

 


For those of you who have come here seeking knowledge...Beware!
The quote above is total BS and shows that the OP has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. If I remember correctly, we had gone over this myth a long time ago in a previous thread, yet he persists on perpetuating this crap!

I am sorry to have had to open this can of worms this far into the discussion, but, it needed to be said in order to belay any wild rumors it may have started in the minds of unknowing readers.
The use of hand brakes to controll the movement of a train over the road is totally unsafe and unacceptable!

 

 

In two threads now, you have warned unkowing readers that I do not know what I am talking about regarding my comments about running with handbrakes set to supplement air brakes.  Both times I have replied that I am not recommending this practice or saying that it is proper.  In fact, I said that I have not heard of this practice until it was brought up in threads here regarding the Hyndman wreck.  I have said the practice is indorsed by CSX, and still you complain that I am giving dangerous and improper advice.  Here are the special instructions posted by BaltACD in the first thread that detail the practice.  I have added emphasis in bold red:

“CSX Baltimore Division Timetable - Keystone Sub SI…

5559 STEEP GRADE (1% OR MORE) TRAIN HANDLING

Brake Pipe Pressure –

The brake pipe pressure on the rear of eastward loaded trains must be 75lbs or higher prior to passing over summit at Sand Patch.

A running release of the train brake will not be made on eastward freight trains operating in this territory.

When the total brake pipe reduction exceeds 18lbs on any eastward freight train operating Sand Patch to Hyndman, the train will be stopped. 30% hand brakes will be applied to the head end of the train to hold it on the grade during the recharge procedure.

If needed, hand brakes may be left on the train to supplement air brakes while descending the rest of the grade. Avoid leaving hand brakes on any empty cars.”

  

Now finally after realizing that this procedure of running with handbrakes applied is recommended by CSX, you have made the following statement in regard to that recommendation:

“That shows you how intelligent the folks at CSX are! Totally irresponsible that they (both operating and management) don't have enough knowledge in proper train handling!!!”

So I feel vindicated that you have now shifted gears and tell us that it is CSX who does not know what they are talking about.  Clearly it is their idea and not mine.  I agree that it is risky.  In fact it may have contributed to the Hyndman wreck.  Yet CSX spells it out as recommended practice in their special instructions. 

I only described the practice and said that I had never heard of it before.  My point was that regardless of the risk of this move with handbrakes set, CSX did make that move, and it would not have been necessary had the train been equipped with ECP brakes.  So, it is just one more way in which ECP might have prevented a wreck. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, October 15, 2017 6:11 PM

Braking procedures were not the cause - train make up was the cause - too many empty cars followed by too much trailing tonnage.  With ECP and Dynamics the in train forces would have been similar to those that caused the derailment.

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Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, October 15, 2017 6:19 PM

Bucky,

People here have been waiting since forever for you to reveal your qualifications to make the comments you do but every time you are asked about your qualifications all we hear is Crickets.

While I readily admit I'm nothing more than a railfan who has only learned tidbits from the rails I know you proclaim to be an expert on many things railroad related. Perhaps you have insight we don't but after repeated requests you refuse to answer any questions regarding your qualifications to present yourself as the experienced expert you claim to be. Many of your posts have been exposed as outright lies.

Please do those of us on this forum who seek knowledge a favor and either put up or shut  up. Were you commenting on things aviation I could expose you in a New York minute. I believe you are a total fraud.

Norm


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Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, October 15, 2017 6:37 PM

[quote user="BaltACD"]

Braking procedures were not the cause - train make up was the cause - too many empty cars followed by too much trailing tonnage.  With ECP and Dynamics the in train forces would have been similar to those that caused the derailment.

[quote]

Balt,

I am aware there are limits to trailing tonnage behind empty cars and that they may, if heavy, could contribute to derailments from stringlining. If I understand it correctly it is up to those in the yard to assemble the train accordingly.

I recall one instance years ago where a CN train had a string of autoracks followed by some ballast cars. The engineer encountered an unexpected red and when he threw it in the big hole the ballast cars kept coming and derailed the autoracks. That was far enough back my cousin who was a CN conductor told me of it. I have no personal knowledge of that incident.

Some days the excrement hits the air distribution system and you have no control over it. No one ever said life is fair.

Norm


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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, October 15, 2017 7:22 PM

BaltACD

Braking procedures were not the cause - train make up was the cause - too many empty cars followed by too much trailing tonnage.  With ECP and Dynamics the in train forces would have been similar to those that caused the derailment.

 

I understand that train makeup may have directly caused the wreck.  But until I hear the official cause discovered in the investigation, I will leave the door open to the possibility that there were more than one cause factor such as train makeup + a slug of handbrakes set somewhere in the train + reduced reliance on air braking + an increased reliance on dynamic braking. 

I believe that you said that the train makeup did violate CSX rules.  If so, I would expect that normal operation could jackknife or stringline the train.  But the train could have also been derailed due to abnormal forces related to the other factors.  I am referring to abnormal forces that would derail a train even though it was properly made up with the loads and empties distribution.  If investigators found that to be the case, I do not know how they would define the cause.  What if you have two anomalies that are against the rules and they combine to derail the train—even though one or the other could have derailed it alone?

In my first post, I am only using the Hyndman derailment for illustration proposes.  I never claimed that any of those listed factors actually caused the derailment.  But any of them were capable of causing a derailment, and they all could have been mitigated by ECP brakes.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, October 15, 2017 7:39 PM

Correct train make up would not have generated the high level of buff forces that created the derailment situation.

Take a rope - heavily weight the last 5000 feet of it, with head end 5000 feet being just the unweighted rope - now start to pull it down a grade - what happens when that rear 5000 feet all get on the grade and is 'being restrined' by the head 5000 feet.

Now reverse the weighted rope and pull the weighted end over the grade first - the rear of the rope does not generate the buff foces that were created with weight on the rear end.

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, October 15, 2017 8:15 PM

BaltACD

Correct train make up would not have generated the high level of buff forces that created the derailment situation.

Take a rope - heavily weight the last 5000 feet of it, with head end 5000 feet being just the unweighted rope - now start to pull it down a grade - what happens when that rear 5000 feet all get on the grade and is 'being restrined' by the head 5000 feet.

Now reverse the weighted rope and pull the weighted end over the grade first - the rear of the rope does not generate the buff foces that were created with weight on the rear end.

 

I understand your point about effect of too many loads behind too many empties, but that is not the only possible cause for excessive buff forces.  There are other train handling and braking factors that can cause exessive buff force.  The NTSB knew that the train makeup was a rule violation, so they could have simply concluded that was the cause.  But they said they would also look into the use of the handbrakes and the way the air and dynamic braking was used coming down the grade to see if any of that played a role in causing the wreck. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, October 15, 2017 8:31 PM

What or if retainers set on rear of train could have helped prevent the wreck ?  With the ultra long trains now being sent over steep grades the setting of retainers would be very time consuming ?  Have no idea how they are used ?

What are the present practices of using retainers ?

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, October 15, 2017 8:48 PM

blue streak 1
What or if retainers set on rear of train could have helped prevent the wreck ?  With the ultra long trains now being sent over steep grades the setting of retainers would be very time consuming ?  Have no idea how they are used ?

What are the present practices of using retainers ?

To my knowledge - use of retainers is not taught on CSX.  I doubt that anyone currently on CSX has used retainers in their own employment experience and thus would not be competent to teach their use.

Special Instructions on the use of retainers from Timetables decades ago, stated that they were to be set up from the engines rearward.  Were they to be used on the rear forward they would be setting up a string lining situation.

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, October 15, 2017 8:49 PM

Forget it Balt - Bucky has his mind made up, and no end of expert knowledge or real-life experience will change that.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, October 15, 2017 8:53 PM

tree68
Forget it Balt - Bucky has his mind made up, and no end of expert knowledge or real-life experience will change that.

I am a blind squirrel - I like to gnaw at and occasionaly break the occasional nut.

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, October 15, 2017 8:54 PM

BaltACD
I am a blind squirrel - I like to gnaw at and occasionaly break the occasional nut.

Well, I'm guilty of that sometimes, too...

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, October 15, 2017 9:27 PM

tree68

Forget it Balt - Bucky has his mind made up, and no end of expert knowledge or real-life experience will change that.

 

What is it that I am supposed to believe?  Balt may be absolutely right about the cause.  I am not saying otherwise. I just want to wait for the expert investigators to tell us what they found.  So actually, my mind is not made up.  I am keeping an open mind until I see the official report.  Is that ok with you? 

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Posted by BigJim on Monday, October 16, 2017 7:15 AM

Euclid
So you are wrong when you say the practice is never allowed.

YOU said that, I didn't. 
And, I take exception to the way you turn other's words into what you want to hear!

What I said was and I quote myself
"That shows you how intelligent the folks at CSX are! Totally irresponsible that they (both operating and management) don't have enough knowledge in proper train handling!!!"

It is the same reason that you do not use the independent brake while in dynamic brake!

 

.

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Monday, October 16, 2017 8:10 AM

You said something else too:

BigJim
The use of hand brakes to controll the movement of a train over the road is totally unsafe and unacceptable!

I understand the testiness towards Euclid I had my own encounter with him.

But we should be fair and not read something into his posts he didn't say just to have a point.

Experts (railroaders) or me as a civil engineer often explain in a way as if the counterpart has some knowledge. So to completely understand one needs to ask questions. Some people are content without the additional questions, others like Euclid or me aren't. 

I think professionals have to stand these inquiries.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Euclid on Monday, October 16, 2017 8:46 AM

The recent testing of ECP on tank car derailments is inconclusive for reasons given in this article.  At the bottom of the article is a link to the test results and report:

http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/regulatory/nas-trb-ecp-study-inconclusive.html

Here is a description of the test plan and objectives before testing was conducted:

http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/ECP/AnalysisandTestPlan.pdf 

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, October 16, 2017 9:31 AM

Euclid
I am keeping an open mind until I see the official report.  Is that ok with you? 

Fine with me.  Maybe you'll dispense with the "yes, but..." responses when someone posts something.   It seems like every time someone posts, you've got a "yes, but..." response to it, usually regurgitating the same thing you've said time after time before.  

So, since you are going to wait until the official report is out, and you've already stated your beliefs here...

I have to say, though, that it's not necessarily what you actually write here that is grating.  It is the implications you make that, clearly, what is generally believed to be the reason is wrong, and that you have the correct answer.  

So now, it's time to wait for the final report to see if your claims are correct.  If they are, you can crow.

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Monday, October 16, 2017 10:14 AM

 

DOT's updated regulatory impact analysis of a 2015 braking mandate for certain unit trains found that its costs exceed its estimated benefits, putting the rule one step closer to repeal later this year.

 

While costs and benefits associated with the electronically controlled pneumatic braking requirement both decreased, the estimated benefits plummeted even more compared to the original analysis. DOT attributed the change to the decline of tank cars transporting flammable energy goods since 2015 and to railroads failing to order ECP brakes on new trainsets, meaning required installations would have to be done via costlier retrofits.

 

The FAST Act directed DOT to update its analysis to take into account studies by GAO and the National Academies on ECP brakes, though the department indicated it will review the National Academies report during the comment period. Freight railroads and some lawmakers had protested the ECP requirement, arguing that not enough data exists to justify the cost of retrofitting them onto locomotives.

 

DOT has until early December to justify the ECP requirements or repeal them.

 

The Association of American Railroads applauded the updated report and said it shows the rule should be thrown out. But the group took issue with DOT's citations of testing FRA conducted within the analysis, pointing to the National Academies study that couldn't conclude whether those brakes were more effective than others.

 

"Nothing could be further from the truth," the group said, regarding the study's validity.

 

Comments on the updated analysis are due Nov. 1.

 

Source- Shortline RR Assn.

Randy

 

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