NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


UPDATED FACTUAL INFORMATION ON THE INVESTIGATION OF THE COLLISION AND DERAILMENT
OF LIGHT RAIL TRAIN AT BWI AIRPORT

February 25, 2000

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating the derailment of a light rail transit train operated by the Mass Transit Administration (MTA) following its collision with a barrier at its terminus at Baltimore-Washington International Airport on February 13, 2000. Twenty-two people were transported to local hospitals following that accident. Although the Board is still in the early stages of the investigation, the following facutal information has been developed by the investigators. In the 2,134-foot section of track before the entrance to the station, the train average 22 to 24 miles per hour in an area where the track speed was 13 to 15 mph. In addition, no evidence of brake failure, or any evidence of heavy braking by the train before the collision with the barrier has been found. The signal system worked as designed during its post-accident test.

Safety Board investigators interviewed the operator of the train the night of the accident and the following day. He stated that on the day of the accident he had been taking aspirin and three prescribed medications - a blood pressure medication, and two painkillers (Tylenol 3 with codeine and Oxycodone). What appears to be prescription pills were found in the train's operating cab and they are being analyzed to determine what they are. The transit company has reported that the operator's post-accident toxicological test was positive for cocaine. The Safety Board has not yet received a copy of that report; it will be made part of the Board's investigative docket. The Board is awaiting receipt of the operator's records from the MTA Human Resources Department.

Recorded information obtained by the Safety Board has as yet not been able to provide assistance to the investigation. An event recorder on the operating car has no useable data. The Swedish manufacturer is sending representatives to try to determine why there is no useable data. Video tapes from 6 cameras recording the passenger compartments of the train stopped at or just before impact, and will therefore not be able to provide information on impact forces experienced by the occupants. These cameras do not record the train operator's compartment. The Board is reviewing the tapes frame by frame to see if the train's speed can be determined from them.

The investigative team will prepare factual reports of its findings, which will be placed in a public docket several months from now. A final report of probable cause usually takes 12 to 14 months. The Safety Board can issue safety recomfmendations related to its findings at any time during the course of the investigation.

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NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.