NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


September 29, 2005

On September 17 the National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a team of investigators to the scene of the derailment of Metra's Rock Island train No. 504. Two passengers were killed in the derailment. The following is an update of factual information collected by the Safety Board's team.

Equipment: The Safety Board has retained car No. 7488, the fourth car from the head end of the train, for additional examination by the Survival Factors investigative group. Car 7488 was the most damaged of the rail cars and the location of at least one of the fatalities. All other equipment has been examined by NTSB investigators and released to Metra.

Signals: On September 21st investigators fault-tested the signal system to check for anomalies in the signal software. During fault testing investigators manually input incorrect signals into the system. When the system detects an incorrect signal it is designed to go into a restrictive fail-safe mode. The system worked as designed during the fault testing.

Additionally, recorded signal data from the day of the derailment indicates that the signal system functioned as designed and displayed instructions for the approaching crossover.

Engineer: The engineer began training with Metra in April 2005. His training included several trips over various crossovers.

During the engineer's interview he reported that he believed he saw clear signals indicating that he was to proceed straight ahead on main track No. 2. NTSB investigators have interviewed the entire train crew, engineer, conductor, assistant conductor, and fare collector.

Sight Distance Testing: Sight distance testing was completed on Tuesday, September 20th. Testing began at approximately 8 a.m. and concluded at approximately 9:30 a.m.

Investigators sitting in the cab car of a train similar to the accident train observed the visibility of the signal system aspects from different distances. Running on main track No. 2 along the same route as the accident train, investigators on the test train noted that they could see and understand the 53rd Street signal 3,219 feet prior to the signal. Investigators were able to see and understand the 48th Street signal 1,926 feet prior to the signal.

The Board's on-scene investigation is continuing and pertinent factual information will be released as it is gathered.

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



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.