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Accident Report Detail

Collision of Two Burlington Northern Santa Fe Freight Trains

Executive Summary

‚ÄčAt 8:57 a.m., central daylight time, on May 28, 2002, an eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) coal train collided head on with a westbound BNSF intermodal train near Clarendon, Texas. Both trains had a crew of two, and all crewmembers jumped from their trains before the impact. The conductor and engineer of the coal train were critically injured. The conductor of the intermodal train received minor injuries; the engineer of the intermodal train was fatally injured. The collision resulted in a subsequent fire that damaged or destroyed several of the locomotives and other railroad equipment. Damages exceeded $8 million.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the May 28, 2002, collision at Clarendon, Texas, was (1) the coal train engineer's use of a cell phone during the time he should have been attending to the requirements of the track warrant his train was operating under and (2) the unexplained failure of the conductor to ensure that the engineer complied with the track warrant restrictions. Contributing to the accident was the absence of a positive train control system that would have automatically stopped the coal train before it exceeded its authorized limits.

Accident Location: Clarendon , TX    
Accident Date: 5/28/2002
Accident ID: DCA02FR007

Date Adopted: 6/3/2003
NTSB Number: RAR-03-01
NTIS Number: PB2003-916301