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Rail | Inspections

NTSB to FRA: End track-inspection exemption for high-traffic commuter rails

May 28, 2014

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Washington – The Federal Railroad Administration should no longer exempt commuter railroads from individual inspections of their most highly used tracks, the National Transportation Safety Board urged in a recommendation issued May 19.

Although FRA requires commuter railroads to inspect each track at least once every two weeks, some railroads are allowed to inspect multiple adjacent tracks simultaneously on high-volume routes. NTSB claims multi-track inspections may cause inspectors to miss defects.

The board also issued a recommendation to New York-based Metro-North Railroad. An NTSB preliminary report issued in June 2013 concluded that Metro-North inspectors failed to spot defects during a multi-track inspection that took place on May 15, 2013 – two days before a derailment and collision killed four people and injured more than 50. Unlike an FRA mandate, which must go through a regulatory review, Metro-North could implement NTSB’s recommendations immediately.

The board requested that both FRA and Metro-North respond to the recommendations within 90 days.