New FRA Advisory on Warning System Repairs

Safety Advisory 2013-04 reemphasizes the importance of clear, precise procedures when grade crossing warning systems and wayside signal systems are out of service for inspection, maintenance, or repair.

A new advisory published by the Federal Railroad Administration, Safety Advisory 2013-04, reemphasizes the importance of clear, precise procedures when grade crossing warning systems and wayside signal systems are out of service for inspection, maintenance, or repair. It issued similar recommendations in Safety Advisory 2002-01.

The new document notes that "under certain circumstances, particularly where human error is involved, the fail-safe features [of warning systems] can be deactivated or circumvented, creating the potential for an accident. FRA has found that serious highway-rail grade crossing accidents and false proceed signal failures have occurred due to human error."

It also says the most effective best practices to prevent this include requiring railroad employees to obtain proper authority from the train dispatcher or other appropriate personnel responsible for the movement of trains through the territory before disabling a warning or signaling system, and a requirement that all disabled systems be properly inspected and tested to ensure they operate as designed before being restored to service.

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