Published on January 30, 2008
Clarendon, Texas : Clarendon, Texas May 28, 2002 Collision of Two Burlington Northern Santa Fe Freight Trains Coal Train: Coal Train 116 cars. Length 6,380 feet. Weight 15,843 tons. Three 4,000 horsepower locomotives, two on the head-end and one on the rear. Intermodal Train: Intermodal Train 169 containers and 11 trailers. Length 7,033 feet. Weight 5,545 tons. Powered by two locomotives. The Collision: The Collision The coal train was moving at 49 mph when it was placed into emergency braking. The intermodal train was moving at 42 mph when it was placed into emergency braking. The collision occurred about 16 seconds later. As a Result of the Collision:: As a Result of the Collision: 2 locomotives and 23 cars of the coal train derailed. 2 locomotives and the first 12 platforms of the intermodal train derailed. 18 loaded containers were destroyed. $8 million in damages. Injuries to Personnel: Injuries to Personnel Coal train engineer and conductor critically injured. Intermodal train engineer fatally injured. Intermodal train conductor minor injuries. Accident Discussion: Accident Discussion Trains were operated with track warrants. A track warrant may require a train to await the arrival of an opposing train before proceeding beyond a specified point. The train’s last track warrant contained such an “after-arrival” requirement. Slide14: Coal train did not stop at Ashtola Siding. Coal train traveled about 7.7 miles past Ashtola Siding. Accident Investigation: Accident Investigation All track warrants were correct and complete. Radio communications were clear and succinct. All crewmembers were experienced and qualified on the territory. Slide16: Coal train engineer made a cell phone call about the same time that the final track warrant was complete. Coal train passed beyond Ashtola Siding while the engineer was using his cell phone. Safety Issues:: Safety Issues: The manner in which track warrants that contain an “after-arrival” are given to trains. The use of cell phones by operating employees. The lack of positive train control. The Safety Issues discussed in this report are: Investigation Team: Investigation Team Ron Hynes Investigator-In-Charge Pat Sullivan Signals Eric Sager Human Factors Ruben Payan Event Recorders Robert Moore Report Editor Additional Staff Support: Additional Staff Support Gina John Graphic Support Abdullah Kakar Audio Support Parties to the Investigation: Parties to the Investigation Federal Railroad Administration Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway The Texas Railroad Commission The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers The United Transportation Union TrackWarrants: Track Warrants Operating With Track Warrants: Operating With Track Warrants “After-Arrival” Authority: “After-Arrival” Authority “After-arrival” track warrant allows a train to proceed from one location to another. Not in effect until after the arrival of a specified train. What Should Have Happened: What Should Have Happened Train Dispatcher Audio Tape : Train Dispatcher Audio Tape Slide31: DISPATCHER: Eighty-eight seventy-six east by two ninety-four now correct, over? BNSF 8876: That is correct, over. BNSF 8876: Ready over. Patterson. DISPATCHER: And a warrant, over. Slide32: DISPATCHER: Number two-two, twenty-two, BNSF eight-eight-seven-six, eighty-eight seventy-six, east e-a-s-t milepost two-nine-four, two ninety-four. X two, t-w-o, proceed from east e-a-s-t siding switch Ashtola east e-a-s-t siding switch Hedley, main track. X box seven, s-e-v-e-n not in effect until after arrival BNSF forty-three eighty-five, four-three-eight-five west w-e-s-t at east e-a-s-t siding switch Ashtola, over. 16 second wait Slide33: BNSF 8876: Track warrant number twenty-two, two-two, to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe BNSF eight-eight-seven-six, eight-eight-seven-six east e-a-s-t, milepost MP 294, two-nine-four. X box two t-w-o proceed from east e-a-s-t siding switch Ashtola to east e-a-s-t siding switch Hedley, on main track. X box seven, s-e-v-e-n not in effect until after arrival of Burlington Northern Santa Fe BNSF forty-three eighty-five, four-three-eight-five west w-e-s-t at east e-a-s-t siding switch Ashtola, over. Slide34: DISPATCHER: Correct thanks, Dispatcher out. END OF TRANSCRIPT DISPATCHER: Two-two, eight forty-three, zero-eight-four-three, KCV, over. BNSF 8876: OK at eight forty-three, zero-eight-four-three, Dispatcher KCV, over. . “After-Arrival” Track Warrants: “After-Arrival” Track Warrants Many railroads do not use “after-arrival” authority. The General Code of Operating Rules permits the use of track warrants that contain an “after arrival” requirement. In non-signaled territory, there is no indication to the train dispatcher that a train has passed beyond the specified waiting point.: In non-signaled territory, there is no indication to the train dispatcher that a train has passed beyond the specified waiting point. There is also no indication to other trains that a train has passed beyond the specified waiting point.: There is also no indication to other trains that a train has passed beyond the specified waiting point. Consequence of Ignoring “After-arrival” Requirements: Consequence of Ignoring “After-arrival” Requirements Limiting the Use of “After-Arrivals”: Limiting the Use of “After-Arrivals” Prohibit the use of “after-arrival” track warrants unless the train to receive the track warrant is already stopped at the location at which it will meet the opposing train. Post Accident BNSF Rule: Post Accident BNSF Rule Conclusion: Conclusion The issuance, to moving trains, of track warrants containing an “after arrival” provision creates an unacceptable and unnecessary risk of a head-on train collision. Cell Phone Use: Cell Phone Use All crewmembers had cell phones. Cell phone use has been shown to interfere with the perception process during the performance of operational tasks. The use of a cell phone by either crewmember may disrupt the normal interaction between the two. Coal Train Engineer: Coal Train Engineer 23-minute personal call. 17-minute break between calls. 10-minute personal call. Engineer’s Cell Phone Use: Engineer’s Cell Phone Use 8:43 - Train dispatcher radioed track Warrant 22 to the conductor. 8:43:55 - Communication with dispatcher ends. 8:44 - Phone records indicate that the engineer placed a call. 8:47 - Coal train passed the location where it should have stopped. 8:53 - Cell phone call ends. Radio Communicationsvs.Cell Phone Use: Radio Communications vs. Cell Phone Use Final Minutes of Train Operation: Final Minutes of Train Operation Coal train continued past its designated waiting point with modest control inputs. The phone call ended a few minutes before the collision. No radio communication. Regulation of Cell Phone Use: Regulation of Cell Phone Use Federal regulations do not prohibit an engineer from using a cell phone while at the controls of a moving locomotive. At the time of the accident, the BNSF had no system-wide instructions that specifically restricted cell phone use. BNSF Restricted Cell Phones: BNSF Restricted Cell Phones As a result of an unrelated collision, BNSF issued instructions that prohibit an engineer from using a cell phone while operating a locomotive. Conclusion: Conclusion The engineer’s cell phone use likely distracted him to the extent that he did not take proper note of the “after-arrival” stipulation of Track Warrant 22 and thus was unaware of his need to prepare to bring his train to a stop. Positive Train Control: Positive Train Control Technology exists to automatically enforce the operation of trains and thus prevent train collisions. Positive train control has been on the Safety Board’s list of “Most Wanted” transportation safety improvements since 1990. Positive Train Control: Positive Train Control 16 Major Accident Investigations 38 PTC Related Recommendations 30 Collision Accident Investigations since January 1999. Train Collisions: Train Collisions 40 – 60 Accidents each year could be prevented by Positive Train Control. BNSF’s Efforts in Positive Train Control: BNSF’s Efforts in Positive Train Control BNSF is developing a system of train separation that would prevent trains from operating beyond the limits of track warrant authority. BNSF’s train collision avoidance system is being designed to enforce the track warrant limits or signal indications and the operating rules that are in place. Human Factor Causes: Human Factor Causes Fatigue Sleep Apnea Medication Reduced Visibility Distractions Conclusion: Conclusion Had a positive train control system with collision avoidance capabilities been in place and operational on the Red River Valley Subdivision the collision probably would not have occurred.