The probe by the Federal Railroad Administration and CSX includes an examination of the proper activation, operation, and functioning of PTC on the territory as well as any human factors that may have contributed to the Aug. 12 wreck.
PTC was active on the line at the time of the predawn collision near Carey, Ohio, on CSX’s former Chesapeake & Ohio route between Columbus and Toledo, according to people familiar with the matter.
But the safety system had been disengaged on the northbound train, Columbus-Willard local H702, that slammed into the side of southbound unit frac sand train W314 at the end of a passing siding, sources tell Trains.
PTC “is on that line and active. The rub being the crew that blew the signal had the PTC disengaged for switching purposes,” a person familiar with the matter says.
The local’s locomotive derailed, along with a total of 25 cars. The engineer was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.
Just prior to the 5:21 a.m. wreck, the crew of the southbound train tried to alert the northbound train by flashing the headlight, blowing the horn, and calling on the radio, The Toledo Blade reported, citing a report by the Wyandot County Sheriff’s office.
Railroads are required to have PTC fully operational by a Dec. 31, 2020, deadline. Until then, under the deadline extension granted beyond Dec. 31, 2018, trains operating over a route with PTC are not required to have the system activated, federal officials say.
Even after the 2020 deadline, operating without PTC engaged would be permissible under certain limited circumstances, including switching, yard-to-yard moves, and when a train’s locomotive fails to connect with the PTC system while already en route, federal officials say.
CSX declined to comment, saying the incident remains under active investigation.