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Accident Report Detail

Head End Collision of Amtrak Train No. 392 and ICG Train No. 51

Executive Summary

At 9:05 p.m., c.s.t., on October 12, 1979, northbound Amtrak passenger train No. 392 was traveling at 58.5 mph on track No. 4. at Harvey, Illinois. Illinois Central Gulf Freight Train No. 51 was waiting on track No. 3 to crossover to track No. 4 after train No. 392 went north. The switchtender on duty at Harvey aligned the crossover switch on track No. 4 seconds before train No. 392 arrived. Train No. 302 entered the crossover and struck train No. 51. The engineer and head brakeman on board train No. 51 were killed, and all 6 crewmembers and 38 passengers on board train No. 392 were injured.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the switchtender's manual misalignment of a switch, immediately in advance of a train, which caused train No. 392 to be directed into a crossover and collide with a standing freight train on the adjacent track. The msialignment was made possible by the lack of an interlock or other positive means to prevent its movement. Contributing to the accident was the lack of training and limited experience of the employee assigned as switchtender. Also contributing to the accident was an inadequate communications system for giving directions to the switchtender.

Accident Location: Harvey , IL    
Accident Date: 10/12/1979
Accident ID: 79973

Date Adopted: 4/3/1980
NTSB Number: RAR-80-03
NTIS Number: PB80-181118

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