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Engines Braked in Reenactment of Train Wreck

January 13, 1987|Associated Press

CHASE, Md. — Federal safety officials reenacting the circumstances of the deadly Amtrak-freight collision of Jan. 4 said they were able to stop three Conrail locomotives at a point about half a mile before they would have been hit by the speeding passenger train.

Using three locomotives like the ones in the accident, agents of the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday tested how far away the Conrail engineer, Richard Gates, should have been able to see the stop signal before the crossing where the crash occurred.

The tests were begun about 1:30 p.m., at the same time of day as the accident. Sunlight emerged from the clouds about 10 minutes earlier, allowing investigators to determine whether the sun's glare on the signals may have impaired the engineer's vision.

The brakes on the Conrail train were jammed on at the point where investigators could first see the stop signal, and at what is known as a code change point, said Joseph Nall, a NTSB member who was aboard the freight locomotives during the simulation.

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