NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB DETERMINES FAILURE TO REMOVE JUMPER WIRE LED TO FATAL GRADE CAUSING ACCIDENT IN ILLINOIS

September 18, 2001

WASHINGTON D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board today determined that the failure of a signal maintainer to remove a jumper wire from a grade crossing control relay led to the fatal collision of an Amtrak train and an automobile in McLean, Illinois. The automobile driver and passenger were killed in the accident. Amtrak reported no injuries to the train crew or passengers.

The NTSB report concluded that flashing lights and gates at the crossing were not activated at the time of the accident because a Union Pacific signal maintainer, who performed maintenance work on the crossing relay earlier in the day, had not removed the jumper wire used to circumvent the system's ability to activate, once he had completed the work.

As a result of the investigation, the Board recommended that Union Pacific Railroad provide all signal maintenance personnel with a dedicated jumper wire warning system that would alert them if they attempt to leave a work site without retrieving the jumper wire.

The Board also recommended that UP establish procedures to immediately secure the signal case associated with any grade crossing accident until the appropriate authorities arrive.

Because federal regulations regarding post accident toxicological testing currently exempt drug and alcohol testing for grade crossing accidents, the Board recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration modify the regulations to ensure that the exemption does not apply to railroad signal, maintenance personnel or other employees whose actions at a grade crossing may contribute to the severity of an accident.

A copy of the report's conclusions and recommendations is available on the Safety Board's website (www.ntsb.gov) News and Events page. Printed copies of the report may be purchased later this spring from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) (800) 553-NTIS.

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.