An alert-message memo describing safety concerns over close-call events involving blue-signal protection has been released by the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), a partnership between the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in conjunction with participating railroad carriers and labor organizations.
C3RS was established to “improve railroad safety by collecting and analyzing reports that describe unsafe conditions and events in the railroad industry. Employees are able to report safety issues or ‘close calls’ voluntarily and confidentially.” C3RS has no direct operational authority.
The aim of C3RS’s Feb. 14 memo (download below) was to “relay safety information to individuals in a position of authority so that they can evaluate the safety information and take corrective action as needed.” The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association was among the recipients.
According to the memo, “rail employees reported protection and operational deviations related to 49 CFR Subtitle B Chapter II Part 218, Subpart B (Blue Signal Protection of Workers). These deviations can subject employees who inspect, test, repair, or service rolling equipment to close call events and the possibility of personal injury or danger.” It identified several recent incidents involving blue-signal protection, where railroad employees reported unsafe dropping of blue-signal protection and inconsistent establishment of blue-signal protection while on the job.