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Accident Report Detail

Head On Collision of Boston & Maine Corp Extra 1731 East & MBTA Train No. 570 on Former Boston & Maine Corp. Tracks

Executive Summary

About 4:15 p.m. on August 11, 1981, Boston & Maine Corporation freight train Extra 1731 East and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority westbound commuter train No. 570 collided head-on on the former Boston & Maine Corporation tracks near Prides Crossing, Beverly, Massachusetts. The train dispatcher allowed Extra 1731 East, a yard switcher, to enter onto the main track because he understood that a coworker would instruct the train to clear the main track for westbound No. 570. The coworker did not have the same understanding about the train's routing as the dispatcher, and Extra 1731 East was allowed to proceed eastward on the same track on which No. 570 had been authorized to proceed westward. The engineer of No. 570 and two trainmen and an unauthorized passenger on Extra 1731 East were killed. The engineer and foreman of Extra 1731 East, and the conductor, the trainman, and 28 passengers on No. 570 were injured. Damage was estimated at $1,683,200.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was that the train dispatcher gave westbound train No. 570 exclusive right over opposing trains on the eastward track of the Gloucester Branch between Manchester, Massachusetts, and Congress Street in Beverly, Massachusetts, without first determining that there were no opposing trains between those two locations. Contributing to the cause of the accident was the failure of the train dispatcher and the train director to reach a common understanding regarding the planned movement of Extra 1731 East.

Accident Location: Beverly , MA    
Accident Date: 8/11/1981
Accident ID: DCA81AR055

Date Adopted: 3/9/1982
NTSB Number: RAR-82-01
NTIS Number: PB82-916301

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