The National Transportation Safety Board will announce this week that the Metro-North Railroad engineer at the controls last year during a fatal derailment in the Bronx had an undiagnosed sleep disorder, according to a person with knowledge of the planned announcement.

 The engineer, William Rockefeller, suffered from severe sleep apnea, which appeared to be aggravated by a recent change to an early-morning shift shortly before the crash, the person said of the safety board’s findings.

In the days after the derailment, which killed four people and injured more than 70, representatives for Mr. Rockefeller said he appeared to have nodded off as the train raced toward a sharp curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station around 7:20 a.m. on Dec. 1.

Read more at The New York Times.

CHICAGO – A Chicago train driven by an apparently sleepy operator, which jumped its tracks and screeched up an escalator at one of the world’s busiest airports, could have caused untold death and destruction had the crash occurred during the day when the station is usually packed with travelers, a transportation expert said.

More than 30 people were hurt when the Chicago Transit Authority train mounted a platform and crashed at O’Hare International Airport around 3 a.m. Monday. Federal investigators, who have released little information on what may have caused the accident, were expected back on the scene Tuesday.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

oil-train-railA 120-car train making its way across Pennsylvania derailed Thursday morning, spilling thousands of gallons of oil and alarming observers who have called for stricter safety standards on trains hauling hazardous material.

The train is owned by the New Jersey-based Norfolk Southern Corp — company officials told Reuters that 21 tank cars went off the tracks at a turn near the Kiskiminetas River in Vandergrift, a small town in western Pennsylvania.

Read the complete story at

oil-train-railBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Federal investigators said Wednesday they have recovered a broken axle at the scene of an oil train derailment and fire in southeastern North Dakota but don’t know yet whether it caused the wreck.

“We’ll want to know if it was the actual cause of the derailment, or was it broken during the derailment?” National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said.

Read the complete story at the San Francisco Chronicle.

oil-train-railA BNSF Railway grain train derailed and crashed into a crude oil train in North Dakota Monday afternoon, Dec. 30, causing tank cars to explode in towering mushroom-cloud flames.

No one was injured in the accident that happened about 2:10 p.m. near Casselton, N.D., about 25 miles west of Fargo, but smoke billowed for hours and the town’s 2,300 residents were warned to remain indoors, authorities said.

Read the complete story at the Star Tribune.

BNSF_Color_LogoA freight train carrying vehicles and commodities that overturned on railroad tracks near a north Tulsa community early Friday is being treated as an act of vandalism with company officials offering a $100,000 reward to help find the person responsible, officials said.

Joe Faust, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman, said the company is working with the Tulsa Police Department and the FBI after a coupling device was found detached from a railcar.

The company announced Friday evening that its “railway police” are offering a reward in the amount of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for tampering with the parked train’s air brake system and causing what the company considers a “major derailment.”

Read more at Tulsa World.

TWO  HARBORS, Minn. – Authorities are investigating what caused a train to derail just south of Two Harbors, Minn., Thursday (Dec. 5) afternoon.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, along with Two Harbors Police, the Minnesota DNR and rescue squads were called to the incident around 1:15 p.m.

Read the complete story at Northlands Newscenter.

This incident occurred despite prior notices from the SMART Transportation Division’s Minnesota State Legislative Board asking railroads operating in northern Minnesota to prepare for inclement weather.

According to reports from SMART TD local officers in Minnesota, Canadian National Railway has not reacted appropriately to the severe weather conditions, Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy said.

Reportedly, CN had six runaways on Steelton Hill in the last 30 hours after nearly three feet of snow fell in northern Minnesota.

The board reports that CN has not flanged or winged hills properly, despite the availability maintenance-of-way crews on equipment, waiting for track time.

To view copies of SMART TD’s letters to CN, BNSF Railway, Canadian Pacific, Union Pacific and Red River Valley & Western Railroad regarding winter safety action plans, snow removal and maintenance of way, click Winter_Safety_Letters_MSLB_120213.

The board asks that local officers post copies of the letters on all on-property bulletin boards.

The board also asks that, as always, members report all unsafe conditions immediately, including switches, switch channels, walkways, roads, crew-change locations and industry tracks not cleared of snow, sanded, salted or maintained.

Seven people were killed in separate railroad accidents Sunday, Dec. 1, in New York and New Mexico.

Three employees of the Southwest Railroad in New Mexico died when when the train’s locomotive plunged 40 feet into a ravine.

In suburban New York City, a Metro-North commuter train derailed, killing four people and injuring 63, including 11 critically, when seven commuter cars ran off the tracks on a sharp curve, Reuters reports.


NEW YORK – A suburban New York train derailed Dec. 1, killing four people and injuring 63, including 11 critically, when all seven cars of a Metro-North train ran off the tracks on a sharp curve, officials said.

The crash happened at 7:20 a.m. (1220 GMT) about 100 yards (meters) north of Metro-North’s Spuyten Duyvil station in the city’s Bronx borough, said Metro-North spokesman Aaron Donovan.

Read the complete story at Reuters.

Authorities are investigating the cause of a freight train derailment in southern New Mexico that killed three railroad employees when the train’s locomotive plunged 40 feet down a ravine.

Police on Sunday, Dec. 1, identified the three as 38-year-old Donald White, 60-year-old Steven Corse and 50-year-old Ann Thompson. White lived in Silver City, N.M., and Corse and Thompson lived in the northern Arizona community of Paulden.

Read the complete story at ABC News.

oil-train-railA 90-car train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in a rural area of western Alabama early on Friday, leaving 11 cars burning and potentially bolstering the push for tougher regulation of a boom in moving oil by rail.

No injuries have been reported, but 20 of the train’s cars derailed and 11 were still on fire, the train owner, Genesee & Wyoming, said in a statement. Those cars, which threw flames 300 feet into the night sky, are being left to burn down, which could take up to 24 hours.

Read the complete story at Reuters.

A federal investigation found a freight train crew member was distracted by text messaging soon before crashing into a stopped train in northwestern Indiana, causing the derailment of more than two dozen locomotives and rail cars.

The January 2012 derailment in a rural area a few miles from Valparaiso prompted the evacuation of more than 50 nearby homes as spilled diesel fuel burned and sent smoke billowing from the wreckage.

Read the complete story at the Sumter Item.