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Accident Report Detail

Head-On Collison of Burlington Northern Railroad Company Freight Trains Extra 6311 West and Extra 6575 East

Executive Summary

About 7:40 p.m. on August 2, 1985, Burlington Northern Railroad Company mixed freight train Extra 6311 West collided head-on with Burlington Northern Railroad Company unit gravel train Extra 6575 East at milepost 12.5, near Westminster, Colorado. Extra 6311 West was traveling about 52 mph, and Extra 6575 East was traveling about 48 mph. The trains collided on the single main track during daylight hours in a 2 41' left curve in a westerly direction about 50 feet west of a dual-lane bridge on U. S. Highway No. 36. The bridge was destroyed by derailed cars which struck structural support members and by fire which erupted following the collision. Three crewmembers of Extra 6311 West and two crewmembers of Extra 6575 East were killed. The Burlington Northern Railroad Company estimated the damage to be about $4 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of a crewmember of Extra 6311 West to read the train register information correctly at Clear Creek, Colorado, and the failure of the conductor to correlate that information with the train orders, which caused Extra 6311 West to depart Clear Creek before the arrival of Extra 6575 East, a superior train. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the overspeed of Extra 6575 East.

Accident Location: Westminister , CO    
Accident Date: 8/2/1985
Accident ID: DCA85RM010

Date Adopted: 6/20/1986
NTSB Number: RAR-86-02
NTIS Number: PB86-916303

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