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Accident Report Detail

Collision of BNSF Coal Train With the Rear End of Standing BNSF Maintenance-of-Way Equipment Train

Executive Summary

On April 17, 2011, about 6:55 a.m. central daylight time, eastbound BNSF Railway coal train C-BTMCNM0-26, BNSF 9159 East, travelling about 23 mph, collided with the rear end of standing BNSF Railway maintenance-of-way equipment train U-BRGCRI-15, BNSF 9470 East, near Red Oak, Iowa. The accident occurred near milepost 448.3 on main track number two on the Creston Subdivision of the BNSF Railway Nebraska Division. The collision resulted in the derailment of 2 locomotives and 12 cars. As a result of collision forces, the lead locomotiveā€˜s modular crew cab was detached, partially crushed, and involved in a subsequent diesel fuel fire. Both crewmembers on the striking train were fatally injured. Damage was in excess of $8.7 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the crew of the striking train to comply with the signal indication requiring them to operate in accordance with restricted speed requirements and stop short of the standing train because they had fallen asleep due to fatigue resulting from their irregular work schedules and their medical conditions. Contributing to the accident was the absence of a positive train control system that identifies the rear of a train and stops a following train if a safe braking profile is exceeded. Contributing to the severity of collision damage to the locomotive cab of the striking coal train was the absence of crashworthiness standards for modular locomotive crew cabs.

Accident Location: Red Oak , IA    
Accident Date: 4/17/2011
Accident ID: DCA11FR002

Date Adopted: 4/24/2012
NTSB Number: RAR-12-02
NTIS Number: PB2012-916302