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Accident Report Detail

Collision and Derailment of Union Pacific Freight Trains MPRSS-21 and AJAPRB-21

Executive Summary

About 10:38 p.m., central daylight time, on October 21, 2002, westbound Union Pacific Railroad (UP) train MPRSS-21 struck eastbound UP train AJAPRB-21, which was moving through a crossover at Norma Interlocking in Des Plaines, Illinois. The lead 3 locomotives of the striking train, as well as 6 cars positioned 20 cars behind the locomotives, derailed. Three cars of train AJAPRB-21 derailed, and three others were damaged. About 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the derailed locomotives spilled onto the ground. The two crewmembers of the striking train sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Damages were $1.02 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision of train MPRSS-21 with train AJAPRB-21 was the train MPRSS-21 engineer’s falling asleep at the controls of his locomotive and the unexplained inattentiveness and inaction of the conductor in the moments before the collision. Contributing to the engineer’s falling asleep was likely his use of prescription medications that may cause drowsiness, as well as his lack of sleep in the 22 hours preceding the accident.

Accident Location: Des Plaines , IL    
Accident Date: 10/21/2002
Accident ID: DCA03FR001

Date Adopted: 5/27/2004
NTSB Number: RAB-04-04
NTIS Number:  

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