Invitation to Join C3RS Demonstration Project
| U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Railroad Administration
|Administrator||1120 Vermont Ave., NW Washington, DC 20590|
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the railroad industry share an interest in improving railroad safety. The FRA is sponsoring the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) Demonstration Project to assess the effectiveness of a confidential close call reporting system for the industry. Close call events represent an opportunity to identify and correct weaknesses in a railroad's safety system prior to an unsafe event. This voluntary reporting system will capture information that would otherwise remain unknown and provide railroad carriers and FRA with opportunities to identify and address safety issues.
The current project resulted from a recommendation by participants at the April 2003 human factors workshop: Improving Railroad Safety Through Understanding Close Calls, held in Baltimore, MD. The Close Call Planning Committee, representing stakeholders from the railroad carriers (Association of American Railroads, New Jersey Transit, BNSF, and American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association), labor organizations (United Transportation Union, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen), and government (FRA, National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center), met regularly over 3 years to design the workshop and the framework for this project. The group recently completed a Model Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that describes the project operations and the rights, roles, and responsibilities of the participants (available at www.closecallsrail.org.)
The Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) will operate the system and receive the reports. As the owner of the information, BTS will protect the confidentiality of this information through statutes governing its operation and through the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002. Employees receive protection from carrier discipline and/or decertification and FRA enforcement if they report an event within 48 hours after its occurrence. Carriers are also shielded from FRA enforcement potentially arising from reported events.
A Peer Review Team, comprised of the key stakeholder representatives from FRA, and the pilot site carriers and labor organizations, will analyze close call reports after identifying information has been removed and offer recommendations for corrective actions. The carrier will decide the specific corrective actions to be taken and monitor its success.
I enthusiastically support this effort, which is a part of the Secretary's National Rail Safety Action Plan. The FRA will fund this five-year demonstration project, which is expected to begin operation in the spring of 2006. I invite your organization to participate. To learn more about this project and how to proceed, contact Deputy Associate Administrator for Railroad Development, Jo Strang at (202) 493-6379. Additional information is posted at the web site: www.closecallsrail.org. Thank you for your help on this important initiative.