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For example, the recently completed analysis of employee casualties revealed that the complete elimination of any one of the highest ranked safety problems would improve railroad safety by only a few percentage points. What then is the most promising approach to improving railroad safety?

First, continuation of the programs already in place, such as track-train dynamics and the test center out at Pueblo that operates under the cooperation of FRA and industry.

Second, a better use of FRA data to monitor trends and identify potential safety problems areas. We would welcome the opportunity to work with FRA in the formulation of safety and research action programs using these data.

Finally, what is not needed, in our judgment, is new regulations or legislation. This is because, as I have noted, there is no single problem that stands out that might be a suitable subject for regulation or legislation. Rather what is necessary is further development and analysis of data so as to identify a variety of useful steps. That can be done only in an environment of flexibility.

Regulations that do little for safety tend to deflect interest and attention away from new concepts that may emerge from research. Finally, we endorse continuation of FRA's safety research program. We think that is an essential element of improving safety in our industry.

I note in closing that we understand that there will be an administration bill dealing with matters of safety. We would hope we would be given an opportunity to comment upon that bill. We have not had an opportunity to examine it as yet. From what I hear of it, there will be some feature of it such as the expansion of the DOT's emergency authority that we would in all likelihood oppose. Thank you.

Senator PRESSLER. Thank you very much. I have just a few questions here you might be able to respond to.

First of all, you refer in your testimony to the statistics relating to employee injuries and various causes.

Has the industry begun to make any adjustments in equipment or changes in training as a result of these findings?

Mr. TAYLOR. We have just undertaken a rather extensive evaluation of employee casualty data to look at just what kind of research is needed in that area to augment the kind of research we have ongoing right now in the general area of human factor research. This includes locomotive cab design, and a study under way for some time now, evaluation of the effectiveness of safety programs and training of individual railroads.

These have already, and we expect will continue to result in improvements to equipment design, training and procedures. Senator PRESSLER. If you have additional comments to any of these questions later, you can submit them for the record.

Would you please state what you believe to be the top five priorities in the railroad safety area, and the reasons for these choices? It doesn't necessarily have to be five, maybe the top three, or the very top priorities you see.

Mr. TAYLOR. I am not sure I would come up with five in particular, but I certainly think that the continuation of the work in many of the areas that both Mr. Dempsey and the gentlemen from

FRA mentioned is important. Those would include such things as tank car research, and for example; the human factors research programs which I alluded to earlier.

Certainly, continuation of the work in Track Train Dynamics that has also been mentioned would certainly be in the top three in terms of priorities.

We could give you some additional information on that later, if you so desire.

Senator PRESSLER. All right. Do you have any recommendations as to whether any of the Federal Railroad Administration's funding could be more usefully reallocated to other parts of the Federal Railroad Administration's program?

If so, where do you believe this reallocation should take place? Mr. JOHNSTON. I guess we think in the activity of research. Senator PRESSLER. In the aggregate research?

Mr. JOHNSTON. In the activity of research.

Senator PRESSLER. In what way?

Mr. JOHNSTON. Those items that my colleague just mentioned earlier.


Mr. TAYLOR. I would say just to amplify on that a little bit, I believe both the FRA and the AAR need to direct more attention towards the human factors area in such-with such regard as the design of the so-called man-machine interface, employee training, and the motivational problems that sometimes are the root cause of these kinds of problems.

Senator PRESSLER. We thank you very much. If you have additional comments, we will be glad to place them into the record. We look forward to continuing to hear from you and work with you. Mr. DEMPSEY. Thank you, Senator.

[The statement follows:]



The Association of American Railroads welcomes the opportunity to comment here today on reauthorization of appropriations to carry out the purpose of the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970.

My name is William H. Dempsey and I am president of the AAR. Appearing with me today are Dr. William J. Harris, vice president of Research and Test, and A. William Johnson, vice president of Operations and Maintenance.

The railroads which are members of the Association employ 94 percent of the workers, produce 97 percent of the freight revenues and operate 95 percent of the line-haul trackage in the United States.

With the permission of the Subcommittee, I will offer a brief oral summary of my comments, but I ask that our full statement along with its extensive documentation be included in the record.

I can say at the outset that the U.S. railroad industry supports the reauthorization for appropriations to carry out the purpose of the Federal Railroad Safety Act and we agree completely with the Subcommittee that railroad safety is one of the most important issues facing Congress today.

When viewed in perspective, I believe that this Subcommittee will agree that the railroad safety record-both in general freight and with respect to hazardous materials operations-is a good one. Preliminary 1979 figures from the Federal Railroad Administration indicate that total fatalities in railroad accidents last year were the lowest since record-keeping began in the last century. I emphasize that 1979 was not an anomaly. Last year was consistent with a downward trend for the past 14 years in railroad fatalities in all categories: passengers, employees, trespassers, and others (the preponderence of which are highway grade crossing fatalities). The fact is total fatalities have declined in 11 of the past 13 years. For example, in 1978 there was a

total of 1,646 railroad fatalities. When we deduct grade crossing accidents-which are almost always the fault of the motorist, and trespassers, the number of fatalities is reduced to 135. Last year, total fatalities dropped to 1,443. Again, when grade crossing fatalities and trespassers are separately considered, we have 123 fatalities. A complete breakdown of safety statistics is provided in Appendix A.

An understanding of the facts with regard to railroad safety requires first an understanding of the three major FRA accident categories: train incidents, nontrain incidents and train accidents.

A "train incident" now refers to an occurrence in which there was relatively little property damage (less than $2,900 to railroad equipment) but which resulted in death or injury. As a result of the changes in reporting criteria for injuries beginning in 1975, the total number of incidents is now disproportionately larger than in earlier years.1

A "non-train incident" relates to a fatality or an injury which occurs during the operation of a railroad but does not involve any movement of trains. Casualties in this category may involve standing rail equipment, maintenance-of-way activities or personnel working with tools and equipment in yards and repair shops.

"Train accidents" is the category which receives the most public attention. Such accidents may or may not involve injury or death. The reporting criterion is tied to financial loss. An accident is a "train accident" if it involves at least $2,900 damage to railroad property-whether or not it involved any injuries. Even a simple yard derailment-far less serious potentially than a truck tire blowout-can result in costs that are this high. In 1975 and 1976, the threshold was $1,750 and in 1977 and 1978, $2,300.

In 1978, the latest year for which there is completed data available, there were 11,277 train accidents. Approximately 43 percent of these accidents were caused by defects in track or structures, 19 percent by equipment problems, 25 percent by human factors and 13 percent by other factors. Deaths in this category totaled 61 (excluding grade crossings). Stated another way, train accidents accounted for only about 3.7 percent of total deaths. Reported train accidents statistics for 1975-1978 are provided in Appendix A.

Of those trains accidents, over 60 percent incurred monetary damages less than $10,000-significantly less than the price of one new freight car. Of the total accidents, only 402 involved damage of more than $100,000. Only 102 of that number involved damage of more than $250,000, 22 of that number involved damage of $500,000 or more and only 5 of that number involved damage of $1 million or more. Such a great difference between the most costly accidents and the cost of most accidents indicates that the vast majority of accidents are, indeed, not very serious in monetary terms.

Moreover-and more significantly-if the inflation factor is removed by applying 1975 dollars to the cost of accidents, and the level of traffic is considered, it can be seen that serious derailments-those involving the most property damage and the most serious threat of death and injury-have remained constant in recent years. I have not made this explanation for the purpose of criticizing the reporting standards. However, we have been disappointed in the past by FRA's limited use of these data to monitor trends, identify potential safety problem areas, and assist in the development and evaluation of safety program goals and priorities. The industry would welcome the opportunity to work with FRA in the formulation of safety and research action programs using these data. The railroad industry and the FRA have worked together to develop and improve the reporting system. We look forward to the opportunity for continued participation with FRA to develop further improvements which will permit more accurate determination of the causes and consequences of accidents.

The current FRA criteria and procedures for data collection are adequate to monitor trends and provide indications of potential problem areas which may require more detailed investigation. This data collection and analysis system on an industry-wide basis should not attempt to pinpoint the specific nature of each safety problem or to support in-depth analysis. Once the industry-wide system identifies potential problems that appear significant, then appropriate action should be taken, including notification of railroad representatives and recommendations for corrective action. In some cases, special studies may be appropriate, requiring the collection and analysis of detailed data. Such studies, conducted at the individual carrier level will more accurtatly determine such factors as accident frequency, severity,

1 After January 1, 1975, the FRA changed its reporting criteria which resulted in injuries and occupational illnesses being reported that had not previously been reported because they did not result in at least one day's lost time. All injuries requiring more than first aid must now be reported. Thus, current figures are not comparable with earlier ones.

and specific causes. These data should then be analyzed to determine whether the problem deserves a high priority and, if so, the kinds of research or action that may be required. Such a national data collection and analysis system can help point to potential problems, assist in establishing programs, and monitor the effectiveness of safety programs.

Certainly the Federal Railroad Safety Act has played a role in helping make railroads a safe mode of freight transportation, a role we would not like to see misdirected because of common misconceptions about railroad safety. Misconceptions, for example, concerning track-related accidents, the carriage of hazardous materials, the importance of grade crossing safety, human factors, and so on. I think it must be emphasized that no new regulation or legislation is needed. What is needed is careful analysis of the total situation and of reports provided to the Federal Railroad Administration in order that funds and activities can be directed in ways that will provide the greatest payout in terms of improved safety. And it must always be remembered that there are trade-offs involved. Some safety requirements-however well-intentioned-might actually reduce safety if they result in greatly increased rail freight costs. For example, it might be theoretically possible to design a railroad tank car that would be absolutely impervious to rupture, but if the cost of using the car resulted in a diversion of hazardous traffic to the highways the result would be more, not fewer, fatalities from hazardous materials transportation.

Railroads represent by far the safest form of transportation of hazardous materials. That is one of the main reasons that shippers choose railroads for 70 percent of the business.

The fact is highway tractor-trailer trucks, which transport only 30 percent of all hazardous materials, are involved in 90 percent of all hazardous materials accidents. According to federal statistics and the National Transportation Safety Board, trucks are involved in 70 percent of the fatalities and 80 percent of the total injuries of all such accidents.

I would also like to caution you that perceptions can be misleading. A superficial reading of train accident statistics might lead one to believe that this would be a fruitful area for new safety regulation. Noting that track accounts for more derailments than any other single cause, it might seem logical to assume that significant expenditures of money for track and more stringent regulation of track quality would produce great safety benefits.

Yet, if all train accidents in 1978-the last year for which we have full statisticshad ben eliminated, it would have reduced the fatalities by only 3.,7 percent and injuries by only 2.3 percent. If track had been eliminated as a cause of accidents, it would have reduced fatalities from train accidents by only 5 percent.

I do not mean to leave the impression that railroads are not concerned about such accidents. They are greatly concerned because their real impact is economic.

Poor track, which requires that trains be operated at low speeds to minimize the possibility of serious accidents is an economic problem. For this reason, railroads are stretching scarce resources to improve the railroad rights-of-way.

In 1979, spending for capital improvements and maintenance reached a new allhigh high of $14 billion. This followed record capital spending of $12 billion in 1978, $9 billion in 1977, and $8 billion in 1976. And should point out that these records were achieved in the face of industry earnings which remained at inadequate levels. In 1979, the railroad industry had an income of only $922 million and a rate of return on investment of a mere 2.7 percent, one of the lowest of all major industries in this nation.

In 1979, $4.6 billion was invested in track, roadbed, and facilities, compared to the previous record level of $4 billion in 1978. Another $6 billion was spent last year for equipment maintenance, up from the $5.2 billion price tag in 1978.

Actions in the past, such as slowdowns, served to stabilize the incidence of costly derailments, but not, of course, minor derailments. However, preliminary figures for 1979 seems to indicate that railroad spending in recent years is paying off. These figures show a decline in all derailments of 18 percent during the first nine months of the year.

Perceptions can also be deceiving with regard to hazardous materials. There is no denying that an accident in which liquefied petroleum gas explodes is spectacular and may rightly be classed as a disaster. Nor would I argue that any accident involving release of dangerous products or the burning of volatile substances is not a serious matter.

But I must emphasize that it would be grossly misleading to characterize the movement of these materials by rail as a clear and present danger to population centers. In 1979, there was not a single death due to a hazardous materials accident.

Out of more than 1.1 million carloads of hazardous materials shipped by rail last year, there were only 1122 instances of hazardous materials releases from derailments.

This is not to say that the railroads are complacent about hazardous materials safety. Although the cars primarily used for the transport of such products as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (112 and 114) are almost all owned by shippers, the railroad industry is cooperating fully in the retrofit program authorized by FRA. Shelf couplers have been installed on all such cars and the complete three-part retrofit of coupler, head shield, and insulation is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

The AAR is currently involved in a program, jointly funded by FRA, to test and study the smaller 105 tank cars to determine if any added protection is necessary to bring them to the level of safe operation we have now in the retrofitted 112 and 114 cars. Because the results should be available in mid-1981, it seems inappropriate at this time to pursue legislative or regulatory solutions.

Where then are the areas upon which attention can be focused fruitfully? I think it must be said that there is no single area where the cause of accidents is so marked as to provide an easy "handle" by which to bring about a noticeable reduction.

Employee safety provides an illustration of this.

Some 99.8 percent of all reported employee casualties are injuries, and only 50 percent of these involve lost work days. Since 1967, there has been a 22 percent increase, however, in injuries per million employee hours, and the AAR has initiated an extensive human factors research program. But just as there are no easy answers to derailment accidents, there are no easy answers to employee safety. The causes? Stumbled, slipped, and tripped caused 25 percent of all employee injuries in 1978; use of tools, 10 percent; handling materials, 8 percent; handling ties, 6 percent; striking or struck, 6 percent; getting on or off, 5 percent; coupling, 4 percent; operating switches, 4 percent; and so on.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the Association of American Railroads have been engaged in research on safety since the expansion of their program in 1970.

While other factors are responsible for a greater portion of fatalities and injuries, derailments are responsible for the most potentially dangerous of railroad accidents the release of hazardous materials. It was, therefore, concluded by both organizations that attention to derailment prevention was crucial and that many of the aspects of derailment prevention required better materials, or better inspection methods, or better operating practices, or appropriate combinations of these.

Major research activities undertaken by both organizations in some cases separately and in some cases in cooperative, jointly managed programs include the following.


In 1970 both institutions began the study of the processes in a derailment that lead to the violent rupture of tank cars carrying flammable compressed gas. It was clear, after much study, that a release of product, a subsequent fire, and processes that had to do with the overheating of the tank car shell, lead to the ultimate release of the product and the rocketing of the ends of the ruptured tank car. Studies starting in 1971 were directed at means of controlling this sequence. These culminated in 1977 in the issuance of HM-144 and retrofitting of the 112 tank car fleet with head protection and with high-temperature insulation. This project will be completed by the end of 1980. By that time, there should be a virtual end to the violent rupture of these tank cars. Information learned in these programs is clearly applicable to other kinds of problems, particularly head puncture during derailment, and may be found to be applicable to other cars carrying hazardous materials. The reason for attention to the containment of a product in a tank car that may be involved in a derailment is that derailment prevention is much more difficult. Examination of mainline derailments reveals that they are distributed over more than 150 different causes, most of which account for less than one or two percent of all mainline derailments. Notwithstanding this problem, serious work has been in progress for several years in such areas of improved rail materials, improved rail inspection, improved track structures, and improved dynamic response. These programs are drawing on advanced technology and the university community as well as on the effective work being performed by the manufacturing industry that supports and supplies the railroads.

2 Preliminary 1979 data.

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