NTSB Hosts Public Hearing on 2004 Texas Train Accident; 3 Died, More than 40 Injured

April 11, 2005

The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a two-day public hearing on the 2004 Macdona, Texas, accident involving a collision between Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) trains. The hearing will convene at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at the NTSB’s Conference Center and Board Room, 429 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C.

On June 28, 2004, a westbound UP freight train traveling about 45 mph, struck the side of the 63rd car of an eastbound BNSF Company freight train that was entering the west end of the Macdona siding at milepost 225.36. The BNSF train was traveling about 20 mph. The collision occurred on the UP’s San Antonio Division, Del Rio Subdivision, near Macdona, Texas.

The collision resulted in the derailment of the 4 locomotives and 19 cars in the UP train and 16 cars in the BNSF train. A small fire resulted, and a loaded tank car (the 16th car in the UP consist) was breached, resulting in the release of chlorine, a toxic gas. The area within a two-mile radius was evacuated. Each train crew consisted of an engineer and conductor.

There were three fatalities, the UP conductor and two near-by residents. More than 40 people, including the UP engineer, firefighters and residents were transported to area hospitals for treatment. Preliminary property damages and environmental clean-up costs exceed $7 million.

NTSB Member Richard Healing will chair the hearing. The meeting will focus on the following issues: crew and employee participation in fatigue management; crew management systems; assessing employees reporting for duty; supervising employee performance on duty; and drug and alcohol testing programs. Expected to testify are witnesses from the Federal Railroad Administration, Union Pacific Railroad, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and United Transportation Union.

An agenda for the hearing will be posted on the Board’s Web site when available. The hearing will be webcast on the Board’s Web site at www.ntsb.gov.

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