N.J. Transit Joins FRA ‘Close Call’ Pilot Program

WASHINGTON — N.J. Transit has started its participation in the Close Call Project, a safety pilot program designed to give rail employees the ability to voluntarily and anonymously report “close call” incidents that could have resulted in an accident but did not.

“We are excited that New Jersey Transit is taking part in this valuable safety program that has already proven to reduce injuries and save lives,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We hope that others will follow suit and strengthen our efforts.”

N.J. Transit is the third railroad – and the first passenger railroad – to join the program along with the Canadian Pacific Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. In this program, employees can report “close call” incidents without fear of sanction or penalty from the railroad or the federal government.

The cumulative results of close call reports are being analyzed to determine areas of potential risk and to develop solutions to prevent and minimize their occurrence in the future. Preliminary analysis from the Union Pacific close call reporting project at its rail yard in North Platte, NE already shows a significant reduction in human factor-related incidents.

“The Close Call project is critical to our efforts to reduce on-the-job incidents and injuries,” said Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Joseph Szabo.

FRA currently requires railroads to routinely report a wide range of accidents and incidents. “Close calls” are not required to be routinely reported but are potentially very serious.

In order to participate, N.J. Transit, the United Transportation Union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the American Train Dispatchers Association each ratified an agreement with the FRA to allow employees to make confidential reports of close calls.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics is assisting FRA on this ground-breaking research effort using its unique authority to protect the confidentiality of the data.