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Accident Report Detail

Head On Collision of Burlington Northern Railroad Freight Trains Extra 6760 West and Extra 7907 East

Executive Summary

About 1:00 a.m., on Thursday, June 14, 1984, Burlington Northern Railroad Company freight trains Extra 6760 West and Extra 7907 East collided head-on on the single track main line near Motley, Minnesota. The trains were being operated on dispatcher-issued train orders, in nonsignallized territory. The westbound train had been traveling about 35 to 40 mph and the eastbound train about 45 to 49 mph just before the emergency applications of the automatic air brakes of both trains. The accident resulted in three fatalities, one serious injury, and three minor injuries; damages were estimated a $3,931,146. The dispatcher controlling the movement of the trains had been promoted to dispatcher recently before the accident and was working in his second tour of duty in that position. The dispatcher had been promoted from a stenographic/clerical position after having been nominated to and completing a company training program; he had no prior operating experience.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the Burlington Northern Railroad's inadequate personnel selection criteria which resulted in the placement of an individual without sufficient training and supervision into the safety critical position of train dispatcher.

Accident Location: Motley , MN    
Accident Date: 6/14/1984
Accident ID: 86631

Date Adopted: 4/30/1985
NTSB Number: RAR-85-06
NTIS Number: PB85-916306

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