Investigators looking into cause of failed air brakes on runaway UP train

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Union Pacific workers took an aerial drone photo of the wreck of two UP freight trains on Oct. 4. An eastbound train struck a parked train near Sherman Hill, killing two railroaders.
Union Pacific via the National Transportation Safety Board
WASHINGTON — Safety investigators are citing air brake system problems on a Union Pacific train that may have been a runaway when it crashed in Wyoming on Sherman Hill in early October.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators released their early findings on the crash Monday that killed two UP railroaders and damaged two trains in Granite City, Wyo., Oct. 4.

Investigators say that the two-person crew of an eastbound train were controlling their train with dynamic brakes until just after cresting Sherman Hill when they applied the train, or air brakes. Their train's speed steadily increased from 18 to 19, then 29 mph, when the crew made an emergency brake application. The move failed to apply the air brakes while the train gathered speed, eventually reaching 56 mph when it crashed into the rear of a parked train in Granite City.

The two crew members died in the collision while two additional crew members on the parked train were warned by UP dispatchers to move away from the oncoming runaway.

Positive train control was up and running at the time of the collision.

More information is available online. 
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The Genesee & Wyoming 

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