Union Pacific Railroad
Devine, Texas, USA - (22/06/1999)
On June 22, 1997, two Union Pacific Railroad freight trains collided head-on in Devine, Texas, killing a crewmember from each train. Two other, unidentified people, suspected to be transients also died.
The trains were operating in dark territory (unsignalled) on a single line. Train movements were authorised by track warrants issued by the despatcher. On this occasion, the southbound train was issued with a conditional track warrant which required it to remain at Gessner until the northbound train had passed. The despatcher, who was situated 850 miles away in Omaha, Nebraska omitted the line in the indicated the conditional nature of the warrant. Furthermore, when the train's engineer repeated the notice back (as he was required to do by the rules), the despatcher failed to notice that highly significant line was not read out.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was highly critical of both the Union Pacific management and the Federal Railroad Administration stating the UP management had not established and implemented workload policies and operational procedures to ensure a safe dispatching system, and the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration had failed to provide standards and oversight in all aspects of train dispatching operations.
Copyright © D A Fry 1998