SAFETY AND SERVICE BOARD NO. 1
RAILROAD ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION
THE NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY
JULY 13, 1964
At 3:50 p.m, July 13, 1964. a head-on collision occurred between two New York Central freight trains at Lewisburg, Ohio. All crew members of both trains were injured.
The accident was caused by failure of the crew of the southbound train to obey a meet order.
LOCATION AND METHOD OF OPERATION
The accident occurred on the part of the Ohio Central Division between Carlisle Jct. and Van Wert Yard, OH, 101.7 miles, a single-track line over which trains operate by timetable and train orders. No block-single system is in use.
At Lewisburg, 24.1 miles north of Carlisle Jct., a siding 4,508 feet long parallels the main track on the east. The north siding-switch is 4,635 feet north of the station.
The collision occurred on the main track at Lewisburg 1,052 feet north of the station and 3,583 feet south of the north siding-switch.
Details of the track, trains involved, damages, operating rules, and other factors involved in the accident are provided in the appendix.
DESCRIPTION AND DISCUSSION
Until approximately three before the accident, trains operated in the territory involved under a manual block-signal system. On June 17th, the transportation superintendent of the Ohio Central issued Bulletin Order No. 24, reading in part as follows:
* * * Effective 12:01 a.m., June 22, 1964
The use of Manual Block Signals System Rules * * * is discontinued * * * between Carlisle Jct. and Jackson. * *
Jackson is 102.2 miles north of Van Wert Yard. All the crew members of the trains involved read Bulletin Order No. 24 before the day of the accident.
Extra 5796 North, a northbound freight vain, consisting of 2 diesel-electric units, 31 cars and a caboose, left Middletown Yard, Ohio at 2:30 p.m. on the day of the accident and proceeded 5.5 miles to Carlisle Jct., where it entered the single-track line involved. Before leaving Middletown Yard, the crew received copies of train order No. 218, which read in part as follows:
* * * Extra 5798 South meet Extra 5796 North at Lewisburg * * *
All the crew members read the train order and understood it requirements. This order established Lewisburg as the meeting point for Extra 5796 North and Extra 5798 South. Under its provisions, Extra 5798 South, the train in the inferior direction, was required to enter the Lewisburg siding at the north switch and clear the main track for Extra 5796 North. The order restricted Extra 5796 North from proceeding beyond the clearance point of the main track and north siding-switch until Extra 5798 South entered the siding and clear the main track.
Extra 5796 North passed Carlisle Jct. at 2:53 p.m. Approximately 56 minutes later, it approached Lewisburg at 30 miles per hour, as indicated by the speed-recording tape. The engineer sounded the whistle prescribed for a train approaching meeting point and reduced the speed to 27 miles per hour. The locomotive then passed Lewisburg station and the south siding-switch. At this time, the engineer’s view of the track ahead was materially restricted because of the track curvature to the left and the long hood in front of the locomotive control compartment. The fireman’s view ahead was restricted intermittently by structures, bushes, and trees on the west side of the track structure. After the locomotive had moved about 300 feet north of the Lewisburg station, the fireman saw the headlight of Extra 5798 South come into his view about 1,000 feet ahead, but could not immediately determine whether the opposing train was on the math track or the siding. Soon afterward, he noticed the opposing train was obstructing his view of a few cars stored on the siding and realized it was moving on the main track. He immediately called a warning, and the engineer applied the brakes in emergency. A few moments later, when its speed had been reduced to 19 miles per hour by the emergency brake application, Extra 5796 collided with the locomotive of Extra 5798 South 3,583 feet south of the north siding-switch.
As Extra 5796 North approached the accident point, the front brakeman was in the control compartment of the second diesel-electric unit and the conductor and flagman were in the caboose. These crew members were unaware of anything wrong before the train brakes were applied in emergency.
The engineer, fireman, front brakeman, conductor and flagman of each train were injured.
Extra 5798 South, a southbound local freight train, left Ansonia, 28.5 miles north of Lewisburg, at 1:12 a.m., performing switching operations en route southward, and arrived at West Manchester, 5.9 miles north of Lewisburg, at 2:50 p.m. This train, consisting of a diesel-electric unit, 16 cars and a caboose, left West Manchester at 3:40 p.m., after the operator there provided the crew with copies of train order No. 218. All crew members read this order and understood it required Extra 5798 South to enter the Lewisburg siding and clear the main track for Extra 5796 North. However, they did not realize the order also required their train into the Lewisburg siding at the north switch or provide protection against opposing trains on the main track if it was necessary to back into the siding at the south switch. According to their statements, it had be common practice under manual block-single system discontinued June 22nd, for the southbound local freight train to back into the Lewisburg siding at the south switch to clear the main track for northbound trains. On these occasions, they stated, it was assumed the manual block operator would provide protection for southbound train by not permitted northbound trains to enter the block at Carlisle Jet, until the southbound train backed into the siding and reported clear of the main track.
About 10 minutes after leaving West Manchester, Extra 5798 South approach Lewisburg at 30 miles per hour, as indicated by the speed-recording tape. The fireman, a qualified engineer, was at the locomotive controls, and he the other crew members were under the erroneous impression that Extra 5796 North would be restricted from passing Carlisle Jct. until their train entered the Lewisburg siding and reported clear of the main track. The fireman sounded the whistle single prescribed for a train approaching a meeting point and at this, in accordance with the common practice followed when the manual block-signal system was in effect, it was the intention of all the crew members that their train would back into the Lewisburg siding at the south switch to clear the main track for Extra 5796 North. About 3:50 p.m., Extra 5798 South passed the north siding-switch,where it was required by train order No. 218 to enter the siding, and continued southward on the main track without protection as prescribed by rule. Soon afterward, as the train approached the curve involved, the fireman saw the headlight of Extra 5796 North come within his range of vision at a relatively short distance. He immediately called a warning and applied the brakes in emergency. Both engineman then alighted from the locomotive and the collision occurred a few moments later, when the speed of Extra 5798 South had been reduced to 16 miles per hour.
The front brakeman, conductor, and flagman of Extra 5798 South were in the caboose, and were unaware of anything wrong before the fireman applied the brakes in emergency.
All the crew members of Extra 5796 North and Extra 5798 South attended Book of Rules instruction classes held by the carrier in 1963. According tot he division rules examiner, Book of Rules instruction classes were also held in Middletown and Van Wert during February 1964 and the timetable and train order method of operation was extensively discussed in these classes before use of the manual block-signal system was discontinued. However, the same requirements as to the inferior train entering and pulling into the siding at the meeting point, which are applicable in the instant case, also were applicable under similar circumstances before discontinuance of the manual block-signal system.
Under he provisions of train order No. 218, Extra 5798 South, the inferior train, was required to enter the Lewisburg siding at the north switch and clear the main track for Extra 5796 North. The investigation revealed all crew members of Extra 5798 South were unfamiliar with the requirements of train order No. 218, apparently because of the elimination of the manual block-signal system, and mistakenly thought Extra 5796 North would be restricted from approaching the meeting point until their train entered the Lewisburg siding and reporting clear of the main track. Consequently, none of the crew members of Extra 5798 South took any exception when their train passed the north siding-switch at Lewisburg and continued southward on the main track without authority or protection as required. The collision occurred soon afterward, as Extra 5796 North moved northward on the main track as authorized by train order No. 218.
This accident was caused by a failure of the crew of the southbound train to obey a meet order.
Dated at Washington. D.C., this fifteenth day of March, 1965.
By the Commission, Safety and Service Board No. 1, Bertha Armes
From the south on the main track there are, in succession, a lone tangent, and a 3 degree 00″ curve to the left 1,250 feet to the accident point and 586 feet northward. From the north, there are, successively, a long tangent and the curve on the curve on which the accident occurred. In this vicinity, the grade is practically level.
Extra 5798 North consisted of a road-switcher type diesel-electric units 5796 and 5672, coupled in multiple-unit control, 31 cars and a caboose. The control compartment where the engineman were stationed was at the south end of the first diesel-electric unit. The train brakes had been tested before departure from Middletown Yard and had functioned properly when used en route to the accident point.
Both diesel-electric units and the 1st and 18th of Extra 5796 North derailed. The first diesel-electric unit stopped with the front end 25 feet north of the accident point It stopped upright diagonally across the main track. The second unit overturned onto its side and stopped across the main track structure immediately to the rear of the first unit. The first car stopped upright on the west side of the main track structure, and the eighteenth car stopped on and in line with this structure. The 1st diesel-electric unit was destroyed and the 2nd unit was heavily damaged. The two detailed cars were somewhat damaged.
Extra 5798 South stopped with the front end at the collision point. The locomotive stopped on its right side with the front end 25 feet west of the main track and the rear end on the main track structure. The locomotive and the first 2 cars derailed. The two derailed cars stopped upright in leaning positions on the main track structure immediately to the rear of the locomotive. The derailed cars were destroyed and the locomotive was heavily damaged.
S-88 * * * At meeting points between extra trains, the train in the inferior time-table direction must take the siding unless otherwise provided.
Trains must pull into the siding when practicable; it necessary to back in, the train must first be protected as prescribed by Rule 99, unless otherwise provided.
99 When a train stops under circumstances in which it may be overtaken by another train, the flagman must go back immediately with flagman’s signals a sufficient distances to ensure full protection, placing two torpedoes, and when necessary, in addition, displaying lighted fusees. * * *
The front of the train must be protected in the same way when necessary by the head brakeman. * * * or fireman. * * *
FORMS OF TRAIN ORDERS.
- * * * Extra 852 north meet Extra 231 south at B. * * *
Trains receiving these orders will run with respect to each other to the designated points and there meet in the manner prescribed by the rules.
Timetable special instructions of the carrier read in part as follows:
On single track Northward trains are superior to Southward trains of the same class, unless otherwise specified.
The maximum authorized speed for freight trains in the territory involved is 30 miles per hour.