The Safety Board determines that the collision was caused by the operation of train N-48 beyond its meeting point, in violation of properly issued train orders. It could not be determined why the engineer of train N-48 failed to stop and enter the siding at Dale as required by train order. Among the several possibilities, the Board considers it most probable that the engineer misinterpreted the "high ball" signal given by the conductor at Stamford. He assumed that he had right-of-way over train N-49 and failed to read the order which was given him by the Stamford operator. If the conductor of N-48 had fully complied with the operating rules in obtaining a copy of the train order, in instructing the flagman in his duties concerning the meet with train N-49, and had monitored the operation of the train approaching the siding at Dale, the collision might have been prevented, despite the engineer's action.
Contributing to the cause of the serious injuries and fatalities of the employees and the one passenger were: the design and location of the engineer's control compartment, the inability of the leading cars to withstand the force of the impact, and the location of the victims at the time of the collision in the forward area of the cars. Factors contributing to a great extent to the passengers' injuries were: the lack of restraining devices to hold the passengers in their seats, and the failure and movement of the seat backs.