The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a preliminary report for its ongoing investigation of the June 26, 2023, accident involving a CSX conductor trainee, who was killed while riding the lead railcar during a shoving movement at the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore, Md. The terminal is managed by Ports America, and the track is owned and inspected by Canton Railroad.
The report’s publication on July 18 follows a Safety Bulletin issued July 6 by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to “increase awareness of riding moving equipment and ensure those who ride such equipment do so safely.” Another alert, from the Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis Working Group, was issued July 1, advising employees “to remain vigilant during switching operations and to conduct job briefings whenever a job changes.”
According to the NTSB report, which contains preliminary information that is “subject to change,” at about 8:05 p.m. local time on June 26, a CSX conductor trainee fell from an intermodal railcar during a shoving movement at Seagirt Marine Terminal and was struck by the train. Visibility conditions at the time of the accident were daylight and clear; the weather was 84°F with intermittent rain showers earlier that day, the report said.
According to the NTSB report, the crew of yard job Y231 comprised an engineer in the locomotive cab, a conductor and the conductor trainee. The train included two locomotives and 15 empty intermodal railcars. “Seagirt Marine Terminal surveillance camera data reviewed by NTSB investigators showed that the crew was in the process of shoving the railcars around a curve, with the conductor and conductor trainee protecting the shoving movement,” the report said. The conductor was on the west side of the lead railcar (the right side in the direction of travel); the conductor trainee was controlling the shoving movement from the east side of the lead railcar (the left side in the direction of travel) with one foot on the second step of the railcar and one foot on the platform; and the conductor trainee communicated instructions using his handheld radio that they needed to stop within five railcar lengths, according to the report. As the train slowed, the conductor trainee fell from his position and was struck by the train, the report said.
NTSB investigators, while on the scene, reviewed data from surveillance cameras, the locomotive event recorder and the forward-facing image recorder of the lead locomotive; conducted a static reenactment of the accident “to understand the position of the conductor trainee on the intermodal railcar” and a dynamic reenactment of the movement of the equipment involved in the accident; and completed interviews, according to the report.
NTSB said the investigation is ongoing, and noted that “future investigative activity will focus on the industry-wide operational rules and training for conductors riding equipment, and the design and riding configuration of the railcar involved in this accident.”
Parties to the investigation include the FRA; CSX; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.