Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Bookmark and Share this page

Accident Report Detail

Collision and Derailment of Maryland Rail Commuter MARC Train 286 and National Railroad Passenger Corporation AMTRAK Train 29

Executive Summary

About 5:39 p.m. on February 16, 1996, Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) train 286 collided with National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) passenger train 29 near Silver Spring, Maryland. En route from Brunswick, Maryland, to Union Station in Washington, DC, MARC train 286 was traveling under CSX Transportation Inc. (CSXT) operation and control on CSXT tracks. MARC train 286 passed an APPROACH signal before making a station stop at Kensington, Maryland; proceeded as if the signal had been CLEAR; and, then, could not stop for the STOP signal at Georgetown Junction, where it collided with Amtrak train 29. All 3 CSXT operating crewmembers and 8 of the 20 passengers on MARC train 286 were killed in the derailment and subsequent fire. Eleven passengers on MARC train 286 and 15 of the 182 crewmembers and passengers on Amtrak train 29 were injured. Estimated damages exceeded $7.5 million.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the apparent failure of the engineer and the traincrew because of multiple distractions to operate MARC train 286 according to signal indications and the failure of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Maryland Mass Transit Administration (MTA), and the CSXT to ensure that a comprehensive human factors analysis for the Brunswick Line signal modifications was conducted to identify potential sources of human error and to provide a redundant safety system that could compensate for human error.

Contributing to the accident was the lack of comprehensive safety oversight on the CSXT/MARC system to ensure the safety of the commuting public. Contributing to the severity of the accident and the loss of life was the lack of appropriate regulations to ensure adequate emergency egress features on the railroad passenger cars.

Accident Location: Silver Spring , MD    
Accident Date: 2/16/1996
Accident ID: DCA96MR004

Date Adopted: 7/3/1997
NTSB Number: RAR-97-02
NTIS Number: PB97-916302