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NTSB To Hold Public Hearing On Bourbonnais Train Accident

National Transportation Safety Board : Thursday, August 05, 1999
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct a public hearing on September 13-15, 1999 on the fatal grade crossing accident in Bourbonnais, Illinois that occurred earlier this year. The three-day event will be held in Chicago, Illinois at the Ambassador West Hotel at 1300 North State Parkway.

On Monday, March 15, 1999, about 9:47 p.m., central standard time, a southbound National Passenger Railroad Corporation (Amtrak) train No. 59, the City of New Orleans, consisting of two locomotive units and 14 cars, struck a tractor semi-trailer at a railroad/highway grade crossing near Bourbonnais. As a result of the collision, 11 passengers were fatally injured and 122 passengers and crewmembers sustained serious or minor injuries. The truck driver was not injured. Estimated damages exceeded $14 million.

"Grade crossing safety is a major issue that affects rail and vehicular safety in the United States," said John Goglia, NTSB Board Member and Chairman of the hearing. "Last year, there were 3,508 grade crossing accidents in the United States with 431 fatalities. These numbers illustrate the importance of this issue."

Throughout its 32-year existence, the Safety Board has made numerous recommendations on grade crossing safety. These recommendations, which have a success rate greater than 80 per cent, have included: installing of roadside barriers to protect crossing control equipment; giving high priority to active warning devices at crossings with passenger/commuter trains; requiring minimum lighting standards for illumination of active lighted warning devices; and general site specific programs for grade crossing improvements, including lights, sight distance, gates, profile characteristics and location.

NTSB's hearings, which are fact-gathering sessions, are designed to clarify accident information and to air, in a public forum, significant new issues. During the hearing, the Board will gather information to assist in the development of a probable cause and recommendations, if necessary, to enhance grade crossing safety throughout the country.

John Goglia has been a Member of the Board since August 1995. He is the first working A&P mechanic to serve on the Safety Board, with over thirty years of aviation experience. He is an internationally recognized expert in human factors issues as they relate to maintenance.

Mr. Goglia was the Member of scene for the Safety Board's investigation of this accident, as well as the grade crossing accident in Fox River Grove, Illinois in October 1995 that killed 7 high school students on a schoolbus.

The NTSB is an independent federal agency empowered by Congress to determine the probable cause of transportation accidents and to make recommendations to improve safety.


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