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Accident Report Detail

Collision of Runaway Locomotive on Long Island Rail Road

Executive Summary

On March 10, 2004, about 2:18 p.m., the crew of a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train, assigned to reposition equipment in various locations, left a locomotive (LIRR 160) unattended with only its air brakes applied. The locomotive was left on a descending grade in the Fresh Pond yard of the New York & Atlantic Railway (NYAR) in Queens, New York. The locomotive rolled away and traveled through the yard and onto the Bushwick Branch of the NYAR, where it passed over seven passive grade crossings and struck numerous vehicles before coming to a stop. Four occupants of three struck vehicles were seriously injured. A fire occurred when the locomotive came to a stop, after its collision with the last two vehicles. The LIRR estimated equipment damages of $83,000; the NYAR estimated minimal damages.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the multiple highway/railroad grade crossing collisions in Queens, New York, on March 10, 2004, was the failure of the Long Island Rail Road conductor and assistant conductor/brakeman to secure the locomotive when they left it unattended on a descending grade.

Accident Location: Queens , NY    
Accident Date: 3/10/2004
Accident ID: DCA04FR007

Date Adopted: 4/18/2005
NTSB Number: RAB-05-01
NTIS Number: