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Stop signal
The Newsletter for Danger Ahead!
Volume 2 Number 3,             March 1999
Editor: David Fry,
Publisher: David Fry
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      1. Welcome
      2. 'City of New Orleans' Disaster
      3. In The News
      4. Sacramento Light Rail Collision Investigation
      5. Truckee Valley Railroad Disaster (1893)
      6. The News Digest
      7. Branch Lines
      8. Site Notes
      9. Classified Ads
     10. Subscription Management
     11. Contact Information
1. Welcome
Welcome to the March edition of Stop Signal.
If you have received two copies of this newsletter, please accept my apologies. The reason is that transferring the service to the new provider is not yet complete In order to ensure that all subscribers receive it, it has been sent using the new and the old services.
2. 'City of New Orleans' Disaster
At 21.47 on Monday March 15, 199 Amtrak's southbound 'City of New Orleans' smashed into a truck on a rail crossing just outside of Bourbonnais Illinois.
The train departed Chicago just a few minutes adrift from its scheduled 20.00 starting time. As passengers were settling down
for the night, the two locomotives pulled the 14 car train through Bourbonnais at 79 mph. A truck laden with steel rods for use in concrete re-inforcement headed out of the nearby Birmingham Steel Corp's mill onto the crossing.
If the crossing lights were flashing, the trucker failed to heed them. The train's engineer could do little. He closed his throttle and sounded his horns as he saw the truck ahead of him. Seconds later there was chaos as the train demolished the trailer sending passenger cars in all directions.
A fire broke out in one of the engines and fed by spilt diesel fuel, it quickly spread to a double decker sleeping car.
The train was carrying over 200 people. Eleven of them, all in the flaming sleeping car died. More than 100 were injured.
The United States' National Transportation safety Board (NTSB) have immediately begun an investigation. this will certainly
concentrate on finding out why the truck was on the crossing as the train was approaching.
Visit the site for reports and links to news and related sites:
3. In The News
Reported at Danger Ahead! during February:
USA - Explosives train derails (05/02/99):
Two freight cars containing explosives, in a train bound for a US Navy weapons centre were derailed in southern Indiana.
Sacramento: Head-on collision on light rail system (08/02/99):
Two "light-rail" trains of the Sacramento Regional Transit collided on a single track bridge on Monday February 8, 1999.
India - 80 injured as train explodes in flames (15/02/99):
The number of people injured in a fire on a Guntakal to Bangalore train is now put at 80.
Pakistan - 3 die 100 injured in derailment (18/02/99):
Three people have been killed and more than 100 people injured in a rail accident in southern Pakistan.
Germany - 2 die in rail crash (18/02/99):
A man and a woman were killed when 2 trains collided in the south of Germany.
4.  Sacramento Light Rail Collision Investigation
If news reports are to be believed, there would seem to be a fundamental flaw in the safety systems employed on Sacramento's
light rail system.
On 8 February two trains of Sacramento Rail Transit were involved in a head-on collision on a stretch of single track. News reports of the the findings of a preliminary investigation suggest that controllers were unaware of the position of one of the trains.
The two trains involved in the accident were a regular service train and a disabled train which was being propelled by a third train to a maintenance facility. A stop signal was displayed to the disabled train at the approach to the bridge which was laid with single track. It seems that the control centre gave permission for the disabled train to proceed against the red aspect on the assumption that the passenger-carrying service train had already passed.
This train however had been delayed because of a traffic accident that had blocked the tracks.
It wasn't until the disabled train was exiting the bridge that the train operators saw each other. By then, it was too late, on the damp and slippery rails for them to stop.
It is praiseworthy that RT should so quickly get and act upon the results of their investigation.
Among the  issues identified by the investigation was that although both trains were in contact with the control centre, they were using different channels and the drivers could not hear each other's communications.
RT have suggested as a solution that all trains should use the same channel. In this way, it is proposed that drivers would be
able to hear the communications of other trains and thereby know their positions. It may seem astonishing to some that reliance
for safe working is to be placed on individual operators overhearing the conversations of others.
5. Truckee Valley Railroad Disaster (1893)
Two trains of the Southern Pacific railroad met in a head-on collision when a despatcher ignored the rules concerning the issuing of train orders. This wreck, which occurred just east of Reno on November 5, 1893 claimed six lives and "is considered to be the worst such occurrence of that sort in the chronology of the line".
Read the story at the Nevada Historical Association's site:
6. News Digest
Railway Issues
==> Study: Rail Safety Lacks Oversight <==
WASHINGTON (AP) - Vicky Moore believes that lights and gates could have meant the difference between life and death for her
son Ryan.
==> Injured Violinist Recalls Accident <==
CHICAGO (AP) - About 10 seconds - that's how long Rachel Barton says she stood on a train platform with her shoulder pinned to
the train door by the strap of her violin case.
==> Union Pacific says safety is still Priority 1  <==
DALLAS - In November 1997, Beverly Butler told the three Texas railroad commissioners at a public hearing that she was afraid
her husband's job put his life in danger.
==> RailWatch Releases Report on Rail Safety; Calls for Congressional Action <==
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 /U.S. Newsier/ -- With a train accident every 90 minutes in the United States, members of RailWatch, a
newly-formed, non-profit coalition advocating for rail safety, called today for immediate action by Congress.
Other Disaster and Safety News
==> Dozens Still Missing in Austrian Snow Disaster <==
BERLIN - As parts of Europe suffered some of the heaviest snows in a half-century, a wave of murderous avalanches roaring
through the Alps left at least 16 people dead and dozens missing Wednesday in Austria and stranded tens of thousands of tourists at some of the continent's most elite winter resorts.
==> Marine pilot says he was engrossed in map just seconds
before jet hit cable <==
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (February 26, 1999 7:25 p.m. EST - A Marine pilot testified at his
court-martial Friday that he was engrossed in a map strapped to his navigator's knee during the seconds before he looked up to
see a yellow gondola and ski lift cable in front of him.,2107,22664-36927-270076-0,00.html
==> Vietnam bus accident kills 22, injures 14 <==
HANOI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Two passenger buses crashed head-on in central Vietnam, killing 22 people and injuring 14 others,
traffic police said on Thursday.
7. Branch Lines
Interesting Rail destinations on the WWW:

==> Railwatch <==
RailWatch is a non profit (US) organisation, composed of more than 300 local officials, dedicated to educating the public about rail safety issues and to hold the nation’s railroads accountable for their actions
==> Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Society <==
The 'Lanky', as it is affectionately known, stretched across England from Liverpool and Fleetwood in the west to Goole in the east. The web site describes the L & Y Society's activities
==> Trans-Siberian railroad from Moscow to Vladivostok <==
Trans-Siberian railroad - railway guide; photo-gallery of stations, views and bridges
8. Site Notes
A new section has been added to the Gallery - "Unknown Wrecks". This is a collection of images of accidents about which we have very few details. Visit the site, and if you know any more about any of these derailments, we'd be glad to hear from you.
9. Classified Ads
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10.  Subscription Management
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11.  Contact Information
David Fry
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