Aerial view of wreckage (left) and main track switch (right).

​Aerial view of wreckage (left) and main track switch (right). (Source: UP.)​

Union Pacific Railroad Train Collision

What Happened

​​​This information is preliminary and subject to change. Release Date 10 May 2023

​On April 16, 2023, about 6:44 p.m. local time, southbound Union Pacific Railroad (UP) train GSHFCC 15 collided with train UP RDACO 14 in Chico Yard in Chico, Texas.[1] GSHFCC 15, a loaded grain train, traversed a main track switch lined toward yard track C-4 and collided with parked train RDACO 14. (See figure.) Twelve loaded grain railcars and 2 locomotives derailed on train GSHFCC 15; 1 empty gondola type railcar and 2 locomotives derailed on train RDACO 14. No railcars were carrying hazardous materials. Two crewmembers aboard train GSHFCC 15 were seriously injured. UP estimates damages to equipment and track infrastructure to be about $4.9 million. Visibility conditions at the time of the accident were daylight and clear; the weather was 68°F with no precipitation.

The crew of train GSHFCC 15 consisted of one engineer and one conductor. Their train was composed of 3 locomotives (2 head-end and 1 distributed power unit on the rear of the train) and 103 loaded hopper-style railcars. Chico Yard is located on the UP Duncan Subdivision in non-signalized territory without positive train control.

A preliminary review of data from train GSHFCC 15’s lead locomotive event recorder by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators showed that train GSHFCC 15 was traveling about 48 mph when it encountered the main track switch lined toward yard track C-4. Event recorder data showed that the engineer of train GSHFCC 15 applied the train’s emergency brakes before encountering the switch, but the train did not stop and collided with train RDACO 14 while traveling about 35 mph.

While on scene, NTSB investigators examined railroad equipment and track structure; reviewed data from the locomotive event recorder, the inward and outward image recorders, dispatcher recordings, and photographs; and completed interviews.

The NTSB’s investigation is ongoing. Future investigative activity will focus on additional train crew interviews and examining industry-wide operating practices regarding main track switches in non-signaled territory.

Parties to the investigation include the Federal Railroad Administration; the Texas Department of Transportation; UP; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. 

​[1] Train GSHFCC 15 was traveling from Hutchinson, Kansas, to Corpus Christi, Texas.