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Accident Report Detail

Rail Grinder Derailment on Union Pacific Railroad

Executive Summary

About 11:00 a.m. on November 9, 2006, a Harsco Track Technologies (Harsco) rail grinder was moving on the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) when it derailed near Baxter, California. The rail grinder consisted of 2 modified locomotives and 11 specialized rail cars. Ten of the cars derailed. One UP conductor-pilot, one Harsco subcontractor cook, and eight Harsco employees, including one supervisor, were on board at the time of the accident. Two of the Harsco employees were killed. A fire broke out in the wreckage following the derailment. Monetary damage to the equipment and track was estimated to be $3.33 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the November 9, 2006, derailment of the Harsco Track Technologies rail grinder was the failure of the braking system due to ineffective preaccident maintenance, inspections, and testing and the inappropriate brake recharging technique used by the A-end operator. A contributing factor was the failure of the Federal Railroad Administration to provide adequate safety oversight of rail grinders.

Accident Location: Baxter , CA    
Accident Date: 11/9/2006
Accident ID: DCA07FR003

Date Adopted: 11/3/2009
NTSB Number: RAB-09-03
NTIS Number:  

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