Tired conductor’s error caused deadly train collision
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that the probable cause of a train accident that killed one person near Roswell, New Mexico in 2015 was human error, brought on by fatigue.
The April 28 early morning incident occurred when a westbound Southwestern Railroad (Southwestern) freight train with nine locomotives and 79 cars collided with Southwestern’s Roswell Local standing freight train. The striking train traveled through a switch that was in the reverse position at the east end of Chisum siding just south of Roswell, New Mexico.
Crew members jumped, survived
The two crewmembers on the lead locomotive of the striking train jumped before impact. The engineer died, and the conductor was seriously injured. Nine locomotives derailed from the striking train. Two locomotives and three empty hopper cars derailed from the standing train. Southwestern, which owned both trains, estimated the damage at $2.01 million. Sunrise was at 6:14 a.m.—9 minutes before the accident; visibility was 10 miles.
The NTSB’s investigation found that the conductor of the Roswell Local train failed to return the switch for main track movement because he was fatigued. Contributing to the accident was that the striking train crew did not perceive the misaligned switch in non-signaled territory in time to avoid the collision.