The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a preliminary report on the head-on collision between an Amtrak passenger train and CSX freight train in Cayce on Feb. 4.
The accident damage was estimated at $25 million and the agency’s investigative team has looked into the dispatch system that allowed the accident to happen.
The report’s findings mirror a NTSB safety recommendation released earlier this month. That recommendation requested that the Federal Railroad Administration issue an emergency order providing instructions for railroads to follow when signal suspensions are in effect and a switch has been reported relined for a main track.
Other information in the report includes the following information:
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▪ From the train’s last stop, the maximum speed reached 57 mph, which was below the 59 mph limit allowed under signal suspension rules.
▪ About 7 seconds before the end of the recording, the train was moving at 56 mph and the train’s horn was activated for 3 seconds.
The brake pipe pressure began decreasing 2 seconds later.
▪ The following second, the throttle transitioned from full throttle to idle, while the train was moving at 54 mph.
▪ The engineer induced emergency braking one second later, while the train was moving at a speed of 53 mph.
▪ The recording ended 2 seconds later, as the train’s air braking system was approaching maximum braking effort and the train’s speed was 50 mph.
The Amtrak locomotive’s forward-facing video recorder hard drive was recovered and downloaded in NTSB’s laboratory in Washington, D.C. The initial review of the recording indicated that it ended prior to the collision. NTSB engineers are attempting additional forensic efforts to determine if additional information can be recovered. Other investigative efforts included the download of information from the forward-facing video recorder and the extraction of the event recorder from the CSX lead locomotive.
The engineer and conductor of the Amtrak train died as a result of the collision and at least 92 passengers and crewmembers of the Amtrak train were transported to local medical facilities.
The engineer of the stopped CSX train had exited the lead locomotive before the Amtrak train entered the siding, ran to safety, and was not injured. The conductor of the CSX lead locomotive saw the Amtrak train approaching in the siding and ran to the back of locomotive. The conductor was thrown off the locomotive and sustained minor injuries.
The investigation continues.