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Accident Report Detail

Collision Between Two BNSF Railway Company Freight Trains

Executive Summary

About 5:46 p.m., central daylight time, on May 19, 2004, two BNSF Railway Company freight trains collided head on near Gunter, Texas. The southbound train, BNSF 6789 South, was traveling about 37 mph, and the northbound train, BNSF 6351 North, was traveling about 40 mph when the collision occurred. The trains were being operated under track warrant control rules on non-signaled single track. The collision resulted in the derailment of 5 locomotives and 28 cars. About 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel were released from the locomotives and resulted in a fire. The southbound train engineer was killed, and the southbound train conductor was airlifted to a hospital in Dallas with serious burns. The crewmembers on the northbound train were transported to a local hospital, where they were admitted. Estimated property damages exceeded $2 million.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the May 19, 2004, collision near Gunter, Texas, was the southbound train (BNSF 6789 South) crew's failure to adhere to an after-arrival track warrant requiring them to stay at Dorchester until the northbound train (BNSF 6351 North) arrived. Contributing to the accident was the BNSF Railway Company's use of after-arrival track warrant authority in non-signaled territory, and the Federal Railroad Administration's failure to prohibit the use of such authority. Also contributing to the accident was the train dispatcher's informal communications regarding planned train meeting locations.

Accident Location: Gunter , TX    
Accident Date: 5/19/2004
Accident ID: DCA04FR009

Date Adopted: 6/13/2006
NTSB Number: RAR-06-02
NTIS Number: PB2006-916302