Railroad Accident Report

Collision and Derailment
of Maryland Rail Commuter MARC Train 286 and
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
Amtrak Train 29
Near Silver Spring, Maryland
on February 16, 1996

NTSB Number RAR-97/02
NTIS Number PB97-916302
PDF Document (3.1M)


Abstract: On February 16, 1996, Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) train 286 collided with National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) passenger train 29 near Silver Spring, Maryland. All 3 CSXT operating crewmembers and 8 of the 20 passengers on MARC train 286 were killed in the derailment and subsequent fire. Eleven passengers on MARC train 286 and 15 of the 182 crewmembers and passengers on Amtrak train 29 were injured. The major safety issues discussed in this report are the performance and responsibility of the MARC train 286 crewmembers, the oversight of CSXT signal system modifications, the Federal oversight of commuter rail operations, the lack of positive train separation control systems, and the adequacy of passenger car safety standards and emergency preparedness. In addition, the Safety Board examined the use of the reverser during an emergency brake application, the effectiveness of the computer-aided train dispatching recordkeeping, the crashworthiness of locomotive fuel tanks, and the contents of the CSXT and MARC operating agreement. As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board issued recommendations to the FRA, the FTA, the CSXT, the MTA/MARC, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Governor and the General Assembly of Maryland, the Association of American Railroads, the Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency, the Baltimore County Emergency Management Agency, the Baltimore City Emergency Management Agency, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Jefferson County Commissioners, the Berkeley County Commissioners, the American Short Line Railroad Association, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the United Transportation Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the American Public Transit Association. In addition, the Safety Board reiterated safety recommendations to the FRA, the General Electric Company, and the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors.