Highway Accident Report

Collision Between Metrolink Train 901 and Mercury
Transportation, Inc., Tractor-Combination Vehicle
at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing
in Glendale, California
January 28, 2000

NTSB Number HAR-01/02
NTIS Number PB2001-916202
PDF Document(1.7MB)

Abstract: On January 28, 2000, about 5:56 a.m. in Glendale, California, a tractor-combination vehicle, operated by Mercury Transportation, Inc., was transporting an oil refinery condenser unit. The vehicle missed a turn in its planned route, traversed a highway-railroad grade crossing, turned around, and was attempting to retraverse the crossing when it became lodged on the railroad tracks. About 90 seconds later, northbound Metrolink commuter train 901, operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, collided with the vehicle. The engineer, conductor, and four passengers received minor injuries. Total damages were estimated to be over $2 million.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision of the Metrolink passenger train with the tractor-combination vehicle was (1) inadequate preparation and route planning for the movement; (2) poor coordination of the movement among the truckdriver, pilot car drivers, police escort, and permitting authorities; and (3) a lack of recognition of the potential hazard caused by the accident vehicle at the grade crossing. Contributing to the accident was the fatigue of the pilot car drivers and the truckdriver.

The following major safety issues were identified in this accident: the appropriateness of the actions of the truckdriver, pilot car drivers, and police escorts; the weaknesses in the planning, coordination, and execution of this oversize/overweight
movement; pilot car driver and truckdriver fatigue; and the lack of low-clearance warning signs.

As a result of this accident investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; city of Glendale, California; American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators; Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance; International Association of Chiefs of Police; National Sheriff' Association; Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association; California Professional Escort Car Association; Texas Pilot Car Association; and United Safety Car Association.