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Accident Report Detail

 
Head-On Collision of Burlington Northern Railroad Freight Trains Extra 6714 West and Extra 7820 East at Wiggins, Colorado, April 13, 1984 and Rear-End Collision of Burlington Northern Railroad Freight Trains Extra 7843 East and Extra ATSF 8112 East near Newcastle, Wyoming, April 22, 1984

Executive Summary

About 3:58 a.m., mountain standard time, on April 13, 1984, Burlington Northern Railroad Company freight trains Extra 6714 West and Extra 7820 East collided head-on on the single main track about 1,027 feet west of the west turnout of the passing track at Wiggins, Colorado. Seven locomotive units derailed and were destroyed in the collision and burning diesel fuel was released from ruptured fuel tanks; 40 cars derailed, 26 of which were destroyed. Five train crewmembers were killed and two were injured. Total damage was estimated to be $3,891,428.

About 4:56 a.m., mountain standard time, on April 22, 1984, eastbound Burlington Northern freight train Extra 7843 East struck the rear of Burlington Northern freight train Extra ATSF 8112 East on the main track at Pedro passing siding near Newcastle, Wyoming. During the collision and subsequent derailment sequence several cars of freight train Extra 5533 East, which were standing unattended in the Pedro passing track, were also struck and derailed. As a result, 5 locomotives units, a caboose, and 21 cars derailed. The locomotive units, caboose, and 13 cars were either destroyed or heavily damaged. Two train crewmembers were killed, and two were injured. Total damage was estimated to be $1,358,993.


Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board, determines that the probable cause of the Wiggins accident was the engineer and other head-end crewmembers of Extra 6714 West falling asleep and failing to comply with restrictive signal aspects. Contributing to the failure of the engineer and fireman was their consumption of alcohol and fatigue resulting from their voluntary lack of sleep during their off-duty time, aggravated by irregular work/rest cycles.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the Newcastle accident was the failure of the engineer and head brakeman of Extra 7843 East to operate their train in compliance with restrictive signal aspects because they were asleep or, in the case of the engineer, otherwise impaired. Contributing to their failure was the use of marijuana by the engineer, as well as the fatigue of the engineer and head brakeman due to their voluntary lack of sleep and unpredictable working hours.

Contributing to both accidents were (1) the conductors' failure in both instances to protect their trains in compliance with operating rules 34 and 804(B); and (2) Burlington Northern's failure to supervise properly its train operations.


Accident Location:   ,      
Accident Date:  
Accident ID: RAR8504

Date Adopted: 4/1/1985
NTSB Number: RAR-85-04
NTIS Number: PB85-916304

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