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Accident Report Detail

Head End Collision of Louisville and Nashville Railroad Local Freight Train and Yard Train

Executive Summary

About 10:31 a.m., c.d.t., on September 18, 1978, Louisville and Nashville Railroad local freight train Extra 542 South collided head-on with L&N yard train No. 101 on the single main track within yard limits at Florence, Alabama. Both locomotive units and one car of each train were derailed. Three train crewmembers were killed. Since an LPG tank car was derailed and oil was spilled from ruptured locomotive fuel tanks, local officials evacuated about 1,000 persons from nearby residences. Total damage was estimated to be $462,500.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the engineer of Extra 542 South to operate his train at a speed that would have permitted stopping the train within one-half the available sight distance as required by L&N operating rules. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the failure of the engineer of Extra 542 South to apply his train's brakes after he was in a position to see the opposing train. Contributing to the collision was the failure of the L&N management to insure that all operating rules were being complied with, particularly those involving the operation of two trains in opposite directions on the same track.

Accident Location: Florence , AL    
Accident Date: 9/18/1978
Accident ID: 79827

Date Adopted: 2/22/1979
NTSB Number: RAR-79-02
NTIS Number: PB-293326/AS

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