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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

NTSB issues preliminary report of fatal accident involving NS engineer

The engineer died after the lead locomotive he was operating was struck by a rolling block of rail cars from train A80.
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The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report of its investigation of a fatal accident involving a Norfolk Southern Railway employee that occurred Jan. 31 in Alabama.

The report states that the engineer of an NS train was fatally injured while performing switching operations in a rail yard in Decatur. The engineer died after the lead locomotive he was operating was struck by a rolling block of rail cars from train A80.

The locomotive was occupying the lead track at the west end of the yard and shoving rail cars onto yard track 10 when 35 rail cars of train A80 rolled west along yard track 7 from the east end of the yard. The 35 rail cars fouled the lead track and raked along the side of the lead locomotive, striking the engineer’s operating cab.

The impact caused severe damage to the locomotive’s cab. The brakeman of train A08 found the engineer about 65 feet from the point of impact; the engineer was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

The NTSB investigation is ongoing; the preliminary report can be read here. Future investigative activities will focus on the securement of unattended equipment in Decatur Yard and NS's safety training for switching operations.

As a result of this accident, NS on Feb. 2 issued a "Serious Incident Notice" advising employees to conduct job briefings to evaluate hazards, review hand-brake requirements for unattended on-track equipment, and follow safety instructions during switching operations.

On Feb. 14, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a safety bulletin advising railroads to provide adequate training on the importance of securing rolling equipment and advising railroad employees to comply with the rules and procedures for securing rolling equipment.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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