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Accident Report Detail

Side Collision of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Train and Union Pacific Railroad Train

Executive Summary

About 7:40 a.m. on Saturday, November 15, 2003, Union Pacific Railroad (UP) northbound train UGLSE-14, consisting of 3 locomotives and 90 empty cars, struck southbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) train UINBR001-14, consisting of 3 locomotives and 32 loaded cars. The BNSF train was struck about seven container platforms behind the locomotives, resulting in five derailed cars. The striking UP train had all 3 locomotives and 15 of its cars derail as a result of the collision. Both members of the UP crew were seriously injured. The two BNSF crewmembers did not sustain any injuries. The railroad in the area of the accident is owned by BNSF and is used jointly by BNSF and UP. The accident occurred at milepost (MP) 102.7 at the interlocking of Longview Junction South, near Kelso, Washington. About 2,800 gallons of fuel were released from the ruptured fuel tanks of the UP locomotives. A nearby train crew extinguished a minor fire. Weather conditions were overcast with light rain and a temperature of 44° Fahrenheit. Estimated damages were $2.7 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the November 15, 2003, Union Pacific Railroad collision with a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company train near Kelso, Washington, was the Union Pacific Railroad crewmembers’ neglect of the information conveyed by the wayside signal system because they were asleep. The engineer’s and conductor’s respective health conditions in combination with irregular work schedules contributed to the accident. The lack of a positive train control system was also a contributing factor.

Accident Location: Kelso , WA    
Accident Date: 11/15/2003
Accident ID: DCA04MR003

Date Adopted: 6/6/2005
NTSB Number: RAB-05-03
NTIS Number:  

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