At about 11:40 a.m., eastern standard time, on February 5, 2001, eastbound Amtrak train 286, with 100 passengers and 4 crewmembers, struck the rear of eastbound CSX Transportation (CSXT) freight train Q620 on the CSXT Railroad near Syracuse, New York. On impact, the lead Amtrak locomotive unit and four of the trail's five cars derailed. The rear truck of the last car of the 92-car CSXT freight train derailed, and the car lost a portion of its load of lumber. At the time of impact, the passenger train was traveling 35 mph; the freight train was traveling 7 mph. The accident resulted in injuries to all 4 crewmembers and 58 of the passengers aboard the Amtrak train. No CSXT crewmember was injured. A small amount of diesel fuel spilled from the fuel tank on the lead Amtrak locomotive unit, but no fire resulted. Total damages were estimated to be about $280,600.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the February 5, 2001, collision of Amtrak train 286 with the rear of CSXT freight train Q620 was the Amtrak engineer's inattention to the operation of his train, which led to his failure to recognize and comply with the speed limit imposed by the governing wayside signal, and the lack of any safety redundancy system capable of preventing a collision in the event of human failure.
The safety issues addressed in the report are as follows:
- The lack of a positive train control system to prevent train collisions;
- The adequacy of Amtrak's procedures for ensuring that appliances on Amtrak trains are always properly secured;
- The adequacy of maps used by emergency response personnel for railroad accidents.
As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes safety recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration, the National Emergency Number Association, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak).
As a result of its investigation of the February 5, 2001, collision of Amtrak train 286 with the rear of CSXT freight train Q620 at Syracuse, New York, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:
To the Federal Railroad Administration
Evaluate the applicability to U.S. operations of the safety requirements established by Transport Canada for lone-engineer operation on the Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway, and implement any found to have interim utility for U.S. passenger trains that operate in areas now lacking a system of positive train control. (R-01-21)
To the National Emergency Number Association:
Facilitate the inclusion of railroad milepost markers on all emergency response maps across the country. (R-01-22)
To the Association of American Railroads:
To the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association:
Work with the National Emergency Number Association to facilitate the inclusion of railroad milepost markers on all emergency response maps across the country. (R-01-23)
To the National Railroad Passenger Corporation:
Modify your procedures, as appropriate, to ensure that all onboard appliances are properly secured. (R-01-24)