On February 4, 2018, at 2:27 a.m. local time, southbound Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) train P91 (P91), operating on a track warrant, diverted from the main track through a reversed hand-throw switch into a track and collided head-on with stationary CSX Transportation Corporation (CSX) local freight train F777. The accident occurred on the CSX Florence Division, Columbia Subdivision in Cayce, South Carolina. At the time of the accident, it was dark, and the sky was cloudy. The temperature was 40°F, and there was light wind from the east.
We determined the probable cause of this collision of trains was the failure of the CSX Transportation Corporation to assess and mitigate the risk associated with operating through a signal suspension, which eliminated system redundancy for detecting a switch in the wrong position. The CSX Transportation Corporation conductor failed to properly reposition the switch for the main track, which allowed National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train P91 to be routed onto the Silica Storage track where the standing CSX train F777 was located. Contributing to the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration’s failure to implement effective regulation to mitigate the risk of misaligned switch accidents. Also contributing to the accident was National Railroad Passenger Corporation’s (Amtrak) failure to conduct a risk assessment prior to operating during a signal suspension.
We made new recommendations to the CSX Transportation Corporation and to All Host Railraods and reiterated recommendations to the Federal Railraod Administration and to Amtrak. We reclassified previously issued recommendations to the teh Federal Railroad Administration.