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Accident Report Detail

Collision of Metrolink Passenger Train and BNSF Freight Train

Executive Summary

On Thursday, November 20, 2008, about 11:25 a.m., eastbound Metrolink passenger train 306 failed to stop at a red signal and had a raking side collision with the last eight cars and two rear locomotives of westbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) freight train LCAL 011120 that was entering a siding to meet the Metrolink train. The accident occurred at control point CP) Lilac near Rialto, California. There were 15 passengers and 3 crew members on the Metrolink train. Four passengers received minor injuries. The two crew members of the BNSF freight train were unhurt. Neither train derailed. The weather was clear with calm winds, and the temperature was 76° F.

The Metrolink train, which had one locomotive and four passenger cars, was about 400 feet long. The BNSF train, which consisted of 6 locomotives (4 at the front of the train and 2 at the rear) and 102 cars (96 loaded and 6 empty), was 6,926 feet long and weighed 12,201 tons. The left front corner of the locomotive of the Metrolink train was damaged when it scraped the BNSF train. The last eight cars and the 2 rear locomotives of the BNSF train were scraped by the Metrolink locomotive. The total damage was estimated to be $25,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the November 20, 2008, collision of Metrolink train 306 with the side of Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train LCAL 011120 near Rialto, California, was the failure of the locomotive engineer and the assistant engineer on Metrolink train 306 to initiate the brake application sufficient to control the speed of the train that would allow the train to stop before passing the red signal. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a positive train control system.

Accident Location: Rialto , CA    
Accident Date: 11/20/2008
Accident ID: DCA09FR001

Date Adopted: 4/13/2011
NTSB Number: RAB-11-05
NTIS Number:  

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