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Mon Jan 4, 2021, 08:58 AM

On this day, January 4, 1987, Amtrak's northbound Colonial wrecked in Chase, Maryland.

Wed Jan 4, 2017: Thirty Years Ago Today: Amtrak Crash at Chase, Maryland

Hat tip, Trainorders: Passenger Trains > Chase, MD

1987 Maryland train collision

Aerial view of the Colonial after the accident

Date: January 4, 1987; 1:30 PM
Location: Chase, Maryland
Coordinates: 3922′35″N 7621′25″W
Country: United States
Line: Northeast Corridor
Operators: Amtrak, Conrail
Incident type: Collision
Cause: Engineer error, Noncompliance with stop Signal, excessive speed preventable by ATP/ATC and other safety measures

Trains: 2
Passengers: 660
Deaths: 16
Injured: 164

The 1987 Maryland train collision occurred at 1:30 pm on January 4, 1987, on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor main line. The site of the crash was in the Chase community in eastern Baltimore County, Maryland, United States, at Gunpowder Interlocking, about 18 miles (29 km) northeast of Baltimore. Amtrak train 94, the Colonial, (now part of the Northeast Regional) traveling north from Washington, D.C., to Boston, crashed into a set of Conrail locomotives running light (without freight cars), and which had fouled (entered) the mainline. Train 94's speed at the time of the collision was estimated at about 108 miles per hour (174 km/h). Fourteen passengers on the Amtrak train were killed, as well as the Amtrak engineer and lounge car attendant.

The Conrail locomotive crew failed to stop at the signals before Gunpowder Interlocking, and it was determined that the accident would have been avoided had they done so. Additionally, they tested positive for marijuana. The engineer served four years in a Maryland prison for his role in the crash. In the aftermath, drug and alcohol procedures for train crews were overhauled by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which is charged with rail safety. In 1991, prompted in large part by the Chase Maryland crash, the United States Congress took even broader action and authorized mandatory random drug-testing for all employees in "safety-sensitive" jobs in all industries regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) including trucking, bus carriers and rail systems. Additionally, all trains operating on the high-speed Northeast Corridor are now equipped with automatic cab signalling with an automatic train stop feature. Several safety issues were identified with Amfleet cars as well.

At the time, the wreck was the deadliest in Amtrak's history. It was surpassed in 1993, by Big Bayou Canot rail accident in Alabama that killed 47 and injured another 103.

This is not the only transportation disaster that has happened in Chase.

Chase, Maryland


On May 12, 1959, Capital Airlines Flight 75 crashed in Chase en route from La Guardia Airport to Atlanta Airport.


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Reply On this day, January 4, 1987, Amtrak's northbound Colonial wrecked in Chase, Maryland. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jan 2021 OP
DEbluedude Jan 2021 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Jan 4, 2021, 09:23 AM

1. I remember that day well.

I was on the scene that night into the next morning. At the time I worked out of Bayview and I knew the train crew members. I still get goosebumps recalling the devastation that I saw. I had worked on the railroad for 12 years at the time and had never seen anything that compared to that carnage. There were a few good things that came about as a result of that wreck, as you said - random drug testing and the installation of Locomotive Speed Limiters (LSL) on freight locomotives. About 15 years later, using some pics I took that day, I made a PowerPoint presentation that was distributed to different Safety Committees throughout the former CR territory that stressed what the aftermath of non-compliance with Signal rules looks like. That was terrible day for the industry and for those who lost loved ones.

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