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Accident Report Detail

Rear End Collision of Septa Conrail Trains Nos. 406 and 472 on Conrail Track

Executive Summary

About 7:56 a.m., on July 17, 1980, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)-Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) commuter train No. 472 struck the rear of SEPTA-Conrail commuter train No. 406 while it was standing on the No. 2 track east of the station at North Wales, Pennsylvania. The rear car of train No. 406 overrode and destroyed the empty lead car of train No. 472. Of the estimated 321 persons on the 2 trains, 64 passengers and 3 crewmembers received injuries. Damage to the equipment was estimated at $1,475,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the engineer of train No. 472, who was operating the train from the second car, to observe the roadway ahead and to keep the brakeman in the lead car in his view so he could receive the brakeman's hand signals to properly control the train, and Conrail's failure to take malfunctioning equipment out of service when repairs could not be effected. Contributing to the cause of the accident were the placement of a brakeman who was not familiar with the physical characteristics of the roadway, inclement weather, Conrail's inadequate training program for traincrews, and the inability of the brakeman to distinguish whether train No. 406 was approaching on the opposite track or moving/standing on the track occupied by train No. 472 because of confusion created by the illuminated rear headlight on train No. 406.

Accident Location: North Wales , PA    
Accident Date: 7/17/1980
Accident ID: DCA80AR045

Date Adopted: 12/23/1980
NTSB Number: RAR-80-11
NTIS Number: PB81-163230

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