Railroad Safety:

Human Factor Accidents and Issues Affecting Engineer Work Schedules

RCED-93-160BR: Published: Jul 1, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 4, 1993.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how railroad engineers' work schedules affect railroad safety, focusing on: (1) whether the number of accidents on yard tracks differ from mainline track accidents; (2) how accident rates differ depending on the type of shift, time of day, and starting time; (3) the differences in work schedule characteristics of engineers who had accidents and the general engineer population; and (4) how the crew-calling system affects the engineers' ability to predict their next work shift.

GAO found that: (1) the time of day, number of hours engineers worked, and type of track had no significant impact on the number of railroad accidents; (2) accident rates at CSX and Conrail were higher for mainline track engineers than yard track engineers; (3) the CSX accident rate was higher during nondaylight hours and in the 11th hour of an engineer's shift, and Conrail's accident rate was higher when start time variability exceeded 4 hours; (4) although engineers generally had similar schedules, engineers who had accidents tended to work on mainline shifts that had greater shift variability; (5) engineers may not be sufficiently rested for work when changes in train scheduling occur because crew-calling systems do not provide adequate notification to allow engineers to properly plan their personal activities and sleep time; and (6) there was no evidence to support increased engineer notification, since engineers generally predict their work schedules 8 hours in advance.

Feb 28, 2018

Jan 30, 2018

Jan 16, 2018

Dec 21, 2017

Dec 14, 2017

Dec 4, 2017

Nov 30, 2017

Nov 15, 2017

Nov 2, 2017

Oct 31, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here