FRA Adds Second Railroad to 'Close Call' Program

A second railroad is now participating in a ederal rail safety pilot program designed to allow employees to voluntarily and anonymously report "close call" incidents, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Boardman announced recently. "This risk-reduction program provides an indispensable opportunity to analyze 'close-call' events to help identify and correct potential safety problems across the industry," said Boardman, adding that the pilot program is a key element of his agency's National Rail Safety Action Plan.

Under a waiver granted by the Federal Railroad Administration, the Canadian Pacific Railway this week joins the Union Pacific Railroad in the Close Call Reporting System Demonstration Pilot Project. Approximately 350 Wisconsin-based CP employees can report "close call" incidents without fear of sanction or penalty from the railroad or the federal government.

Boardman said that FRA currently requires railroads to routinely report a wide range of accidents and incidents. Even though "close calls" are not accidents in the technical sense, they are potentially serious nonetheless such as failing to properly test an air brake before leaving a yard, proceeding beyond approved track authority while operating a train in dark (non-signaled) territory and lifting objects that place employees at risk for minor personal injuries, he explained. The cumulative results of "close call" reports are being studied to determine areas of potential risk and to develop solutions to prevent and minimize their occurrence in the future, Boardman added. Any report that requires immediate action will be handled promptly. Similar programs already exist in the aviation and mining industries.

In order to participate, the CP, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the United Transportation Union ratified an agreement with FRA to allow employees to make confidential reports of "close calls" to the DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. FRA is actively working with the Alaska Railroad so that it can become the third railroad in this program. For more information, visit www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/1913.

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