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Accident Report Detail

Head-On Collision of Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad Trains Nos. 123 and 218

Executive Summary

About 6:51 p.m., c.s.t., on January 21, 1985 eastbound Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad (South Shore) train No. 123 and westbound South Shore train No. 218 collided head-on on the eastward main track about 1,490 feet west of the west end of the Gary Station platform at Gary, Indiana. The eastward main track was being used for single-track operation for about 3.5 miles between the end of the double track east of Gary Station and Clark Crossover west of Gary Station because damage caused by cold weather breaks to the catenary propulsion power system over the westward main track made the track unusable by electrically propelled trains. The lead cars of the self-propelled units of each train were crushed and derailed. Seventy-nine passengers, 6 crew members, and 2 off-duty employees were injured in the collision. The South Shore estimated the damage to be about $2,433,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the dispatcher to coordinate the movement of the two trains properly; the lack of a clear provision in General Notice No. 62 for a meeting of two opposing trains scheduled to depart Gary Station at the same time; and the mistaken determination by the crew of eastbound train No. 123 while at Clark Road Station that there was sufficient time for the train to reach Gary Station and clear the single track before the scheduled departure of westbound train No. 218.

Accident Location: Gary , IN    
Accident Date: 1/21/1985
Accident ID: 79987

Date Adopted: 10/21/1985
NTSB Number: RAR-85-13
NTIS Number: PB85-916313

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