Rail safety alert: crew-induced emergency brake use

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Are you prepared to make the decision?

  • How many times have you been a part of a crew-induced emergency?
  • Conductors, how many times have you alerted your engineer to take action to stop the train?
  • Engineers, do you discuss parameters with your conductors for emergency brake application in your job briefings?
  • Conductors, have you ever pulled the emergency brake (dumped the air) to stop your train?
  • Do you discuss the possible situation of emergency in your job briefings and develop an action plan?
  • Did you know that on the BNSF only three percent of crew-induced emergencies are performed by the conductor?

According to the SMART Rail Safety Task Force, this message is not intended for conductors to take control of the locomotive from the hands of the engineer. This message is meant to encourage crews to work together for safe train operation. Conductors must know they are empowered to take action if deemed necessary after assessing the situation with their engineer. It is paramount for both crewmembers to stay engaged and focused on the task at hand for safe train operations.

All too often when signals are run, speeding is excessive or train handling is improper, conductors say, I thought the engineer had it.

Tips for success:

  1. Job briefing: crews discuss parameters for conductors to take action and put that plan in place for emergency situations.
  2. Conductors must stay focused and alert your engineer that he or she needs to take action.
  3. Engineers must remain vigilant and aware of their situation.

CSX operating rule: 301 control of train speed

  • 301.1: Crewmembers must notify the locomotive operator of any condition that requires the train to reduce speed or stop not more than five miles, but not less than two miles, before reaching the condition.
  • 301.2: If the locomotive operator fails to control the train in accordance with authorized speed, other crewmembers must take action to ensure the safety of the train. When train speed exceeds authorized speed by:( a.) Less than five mph, other crewmembers must direct the locomotive operator to slow the train to authorized speed, or (b.) five mph or more, other crewmembers must direct the locomotive operator to stop the train and immediately report the occurrence to the proper authority. The train must not proceed until released.
  • 301.3: Make an emergency air brake application to stop the train if the: (a.) automatic braking system fails to respond as expected, or (b.) locomotive operator fails to take action when the train is required to stop or (c.) locomotive operator becomes incapacitated.

Do you see an unsafe trend developing, do you have an idea that will make our work place a safer one? Click here to email your SMART Rail Safety Task Force.

(This is Safety Alert #10 in a series of alerts posted by the SMART Rail Safety Task Force.)

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