FRA: First-Ever Freight Locomotive Crashworthiness Standards to Improve Protection for Train Crews

WASHINGTON – Train crews involved in a locomotive collision will have a better chance of survival with reduced injuries as a result of the first-ever federal freight locomotive crashworthiness standards, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman said.

The regulation published June 28 is intended to prevent the locomotive cab from being crushed during a head-on collision with another locomotive, or when it strikes the rear of another train, a shifted load on a train on an adjacent track, or a vehicle at a highway-rail grade crossing, Boardman said.

“This regulation will give engineers and conductors a better chance to walk away from the devastation and destruction of a locomotive collision,” Boardman said. “Train crews deserve the highest level of protection possible.”

The crashworthiness standards include upgraded structural elements such as stronger collision posts and the addition of anti-climbing equipment to keep the locomotive upright and in-line on the tracks after a collision occurs, Boardman said. The interior of the locomotive cabs also will need to be reconfigured to soften many sharp edges and provide better emergency lighting and exits.

In addition, fuel tanks will be strengthened to prevent spills that could lead to a fire, he added. The rule changes will be required for locomotives newly manufactured or rebuilt beginning in January 2009.

This federal rule incorporates and expands on effective railroad industry standards first implemented in 1989 that have significantly improved the crash performance of new locomotives. The rule is the result of a collaborative effort by the Locomotive Crashworthiness Working Group of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), an ongoing FRA-led cooperative effort that includes representatives of all industry stakeholders.