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Accident Report Detail

Collision of Penn Central Freight Train OV-8 with an Open Drawbridge

Executive Summary

On May 8, 1974, Penn Central freight train OV-8 collided with the counterweight of a lift-span drawbridge on the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland, Ohio. Shortly before the collision, the eastbound train had been traveling at 33 mph on a main track equipped with automatic block signals when the DB operator contacted the traincrew and advised them that the route was clear ahead. Then, the operator remembered that a boat had been awaiting passage and, without informing the traincrew, he opened the bridge. The train passed the red home signal of the DB interlocking without braking and struck the counterweight of the open bridge about 600 feet beyond the signal. The two crewmembers in the lead locomotive unit died as a result of crash injuries.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the locomotive crewmembers to obey a wayside signal indication to stop and the concurrent opening of the drawbridge by the DB operator after he had advised the oncoming traincrew by radio that the route was clear. Contributing to the accident was the absence of specific rules that either prohibited such a radio message or described the circumstances under which such a radio transmittal could be accepted as an operational control.

Accident Location: Cleveland , OH    
Accident Date: 5/8/1974
Accident ID: 79812

Date Adopted: 3/26/1975
NTSB Number: RAR-75-03
NTIS Number: PB-242430/AS

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