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Updated: Amtrak train kills 2 CSX employees outside Washington’s Union Station

An Amtrak passenger train struck and killed two employees of the CSX rail company near Union Station in Washington, D.C.

Update July 11

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report on the deaths of two CSX workers, who were struck and killed by an Amtrak train outside of Washington Union Station on June 27th. The two workers were killed with their backs to the oncoming train after inspecting a defective railcar.

A CSX conductor and a trainee were struck and killed at 11:18 p.m. on June 27th after investigating a report of overheating wheels or bearings on a car on their train. The conductor and trainee stopped their train after being told of a possible defect on one of the railcars on their train. The two walked back to the car and investigated two cars after conferring with their rail dispatcher.

After discussing the dispatcher, the crew decided to remove the defective car from the train, and began crossing the train over from the west-most to second west-most track. The locomotive of the train was then stopped on the second of four parallel tracks; the two west tracks are owned by CSX, and the two east tracks are owned by Amtrak.

According to the NTSB, the two employees were killed when walking back from the second reported railcar defect back to the locomotive. The Amtrak train, train 175, was traveling on the adjacent track at approximately 73 miles per hour. The Amtrak engineers told the NTSB they sounded their horns upon seeing personnel on the tracks.

Original story

An Amtrak passenger train struck and killed two employees of the CSX rail company outside Washington Union Station on Tuesday, June 27.

The incident happened around 11:50 p.m. on Tuesday, about three minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive at Union Station. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed to local ABC affiliate WJLA that the CSX employees were struck approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northeast of the station; the Board is investigating the incident.

At a noon press briefing on Wednesday the 28th, NTSB Board member Earl Weener stated that sometime before 11:30 p.m. a CSX intermodal train heading down from Baltimore stopped outside Washington Union Station after the crew was identified of a possible wheel issue triggered by a trackside “hot box” detector, which looks for potential wheel and axle overheating. A conductor and a trainee left the train to investigate the potential issue. At some point the two employees crossed over to an active Amtrak track, at which point they were struck and killed.

The two trains were on adjacent tracks.

The speed limit for Amtrak trains in the area is 95 mph, which then drops down to 35 mph closer to Union Station. The NTSB has begun the process of downloading technical data from both trains, which would include the speeds at which the Amtrak train was moving.

Shortly before 9 a.m., Amtrak said service between D.C. and Philadelphia was beginning to resume.

CSX spokesperson Rob Doolittle told Grasswire: “CSX is deeply saddened to report that at approximately 11:50 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, June 27, two CSX employees tragically lost their lives when they were struck by an Amtrak train on the railroad tracks near the intersection of 9th Street and New York Avenue, N.E., in Washington, D.C. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of our employees.”

The company is withholding the employees’ names.

Amtrak and CSX share the same Right of Way (ROW) where their tracks run parallel northeast of Union Station for approximately 3,000 feet (914 meters).

Three sections of rail network merge just north of Union Station: The CSX Metropolitan Subdivision which runs from D.C. to Ohio following the old B&O Railroad; the CSX Capital Subdivision that goes Baltimore; and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor which runs from D.C. through Baltimore and north to New York City.

Amtrak and CSX lines run parallel and merge northeast of Washington Union Station. Image: OpenRailwayMap/Grasswire

Local commuter rail service MARC is running limited service on the Penn and Camden lines; the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is honoring MARC tickets.

CSX management representatives are assisting the NTSB with the investigation.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, six rail workers were killed by trains in 2016, and at least four have been killed in 2017.


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