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Accident Report Detail

Head On Collision of Two Burlington Northern Freight Trains

Executive Summary

At 6:37 p m., on May 24, 1972, two Burlington Northern freight trains, Extra 1577 West and Extra 2043 East, collided head-on near Maquon, Illinois. Four of the locomotive units of the trains were destroyed and the fifth was heavily damaged. The engineer and the head brakeman on each train were killed.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the responsible employees to deliver to the crew of Extra 1577 West at Yates City, Ill., a restricting train order which established a meet between Extra 1577 West and Extra 2043 East at Yates City. Two factors contributed to this failure.

First, Extra 1577 West did not stop at the Yates City station to obtain a copy of the train order, in disregard of the stop aspect displayed by the westbound train-order signal of the station. The reason the engineer failed to stop his train could not be determined. The Board, however, considers that because of the effects of alcohol and a misleading phantom clear aspect of the westbound train-order signal, the engineer may have failed to interpret the signal correctly.

Second, the employees involved with the transmission and handling of the restricting train order did not comply with the requirements of the operating rules to take special precautions lot the safety of Extra 1577 West, the train which was being restricted by the order.

Accident Location: Maquon , IL    
Accident Date: 5/24/1972
Accident ID: 79793

Date Adopted: 4/11/1973
NTSB Number: RAR-73-04
NTIS Number: PB-220815

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