Highway Accident Report

Collision Between
Metrolink Train 210 and
Ford Crew Cab, Stake Bed Truck
at Highway-Rail Grade Crossing
Burbank, California
January 6, 2003

NTSB Number HAR-03/04
NTIS Number PB2003-916204


On January 6, 2003, about 9:30 a.m. Pacific standard time, eastbound Metrolink commuter train 210 struck a Ford F-550 crew cab, stake bed truck at the North Buena Vista Street grade crossing in Burbank, California. Upon impact, the truck?s fuel tank was compromised, releasing fuel and resulting in a postcrash fire that consumed the stake bed, which remained at the crossing, while the truck?s cab, which was not on fire, continued eastward with the train. The train derailed and came to a stop about 1,300 feet east of the crossing. The cab and second cars of the train came to rest on their sides; the remaining two cars and the locomotive remained upright. The truckdriver was fatally injured. Of the train?s 59 passengers and 2 crewmembers, 32 sustained injuries; 1 passenger, who was treated and then released from a local hospital, died 15 days later from internal injuries that were probably sustained during the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the design of the traffic signals? railroad hold interval, which displayed a flashing red arrow for the eastbound North San Fernando Boulevard left turn lane, improperly implying that, after stopping, the truckdriver was permitted to make a left turn onto North Buena Vista Street. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a raised median at the crossing that would have obstructed the path used by the truckdriver to make the left turn.

The major safety issues discussed in this report are the use of ?all-red-flash? railroad hold intervals at signalized highway-rail grade crossings and adherence to applicable engineering guidance in designing traffic signals and other safety features at grade crossings.

As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration; the California Department of Transportation; the city of Burbank, California; the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; the Institute of Transportation Engineers; the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices; the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances; and the Transportation Research Board.