The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) says a Memorial Day weekend collision involving two Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains was “a signal-caused accident.”
More than 30 passengers on the eastbound train had to be evacuated on May 25 in Speonk, N.Y., following the collision, which caused a derailment.
A westbound train moved into a side track to allow the eastbound train to pass. The side track could only hold 13 cars, and the westbound train was 14 cars long. A signal indicated the train cleared the main track. The engineer of the eastbound train received the clear signal and was five car-lengths from the westbound train when he noticed the problem and applied the emergency brake. The train hit the left side of the diesel locomotive that was partially on the side track.
According to the FRA, “the accident occurred because of the loose of shunt, which allowed the main track side of the turnout to release (to become energized), allowing the eastward signal on the main track to display at SK2.
“Examination of the turnout area of the switch revealed a non-insulated rail joint that had a single broken bond. With Engine No. 512 occupying the track circuit, the track relay was able to energize. This released the interlocking and allowed the Babylon East block operator to re-align the switch to the normal position and establish a proceed signal for train No. 8700.”
An LIRR assistant signalman is now under criminal investigation, preventing the FRA from conducting an interview. The FRA wants to know if an inspection of the track circuit that was supposed to take place in April was done properly.
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