Final report on Washington Amtrak train derailment urges 'System Safety Program'

23

The National Transportation Safety Board published its final report for the agency’s investigation of the Dec. 18, 2017, fatal Amtrak train derailment in DuPont, Washington.

The report details the NTSB’s investigation of the accident and its safety recommendations made based upon the results of that investigation.

Following the May 21, 2019, board meeting during which the probable cause was determined, the NTSB issued 26 new safety recommendations and reiterated three existing safety recommendations.

Among the reiterated safety recommendations is recommendation R-17-17, issued to the Federal Railroad Administration, seeking the enactment of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 270, “System Safety Program,” without further delay. The recommendation was reiterated because while the FRA published the final rule Aug. 12, 2016, the implementation of the rule was stayed six times, with implementation deferred to Sept. 4, 2019.

Yet despite evidence in the report further demonstrating the need for the timely implementation of this safety recommendation, the FRA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking June 12, 2019, seeking to further delay regulations requiring commuter and intercity passenger railroads to develop and implement a system safety program to improve the safety of their operations.

“The Federal Railroad Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking once again delays the implementation of regulations that will make passenger rail operations safer,” said NTSB Member Jennifer Homendy. “The absence of a sense of urgency to implement this safety recommendation and the willingness to continue to jeopardize the safety of train crews and their passengers is unacceptable. The railroads should not wait one more day on the FRA to implement a final rule. It is the responsibility of each railroad to take swift action to ensure system safety.”

The NTSB’s final report for the Amtrak 501, DuPont, Washington, derailment is available here.