An engineer and two conductors crewing a Virginia Rail Express commuter train suffered injuries in an on-track collision with a CSX maintenance vehicle. The crash occurred in Southwest Washington, DC, near the interchange between 14th Street and Main Avenue, at around 11 am on September 24, 2015.
A contractor for the freight rail corporation was in the dump truck that the train hit. He also had to go the hospital to receive treatment for injuries. All four injured railroad workers are expected to survive, and no passengers were aboard the VRE train at the time of the wreck.
The collision was reported as a sideswipe, with the truck being partially on the rail bed. No details were available regarding why the maintenance vehicle was placed in the path of the commuter train or why the train crew did not know that the dump truck had become an obstacle. Perhaps the truck’s driver simply misjudged the space needed for the train to pass safely. Another explanation could be that communications broke down, and the engineer and conductors never received an alert about the obstacle.
What is known is that the crash happened in a track work zone, which is always a dangerous place for anyone aboard a train or along the right-of-way. The combination of constantly moving trucks, people on foot and contractors unfamiliar with railroad safety procedures often sets the stage for avoidable on-the-job accidents that result in injuries and deaths. As soon as VRE, CSX and investigators from regulators such as the Federal Railroad Administration learn what went wrong to cause this train crash in Washington, DC, they must all take steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.
For their own part, the injured rail employees may want to reach out to an attorney who has experience helping people who get hurt while working in and around trains. Rail corporations have legal obligations to compensate injured workers, but they often look for any excuse to evade that duty.