Report of the chief of the Bureau of Safety covering investigation of an accident which occurred on the Norfolk and West...


Material Information

Report of the chief of the Bureau of Safety covering investigation of an accident which occurred on the Norfolk and Western Railroad at Walton, Va., December 18, 1919
Physical Description:
12 p. : illus. ; 24 cm.
United States -- Interstate Commerce Commission. -- Bureau of Safety and Service
Borland, W. P
Govt. Print. Off.
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Railroad accidents -- Virginia   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


General Note:
At head of title: Interstate Commerce Commission.
General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
Dated January 6, 1920.
General Note:
W.P. Borland, chief, Bureau of Safety.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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aleph - 004952902
oclc - 60333668
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JANUARY 6, 1920.
To the COMMIsSIo, :
On December 18, 1919, there was a rear-end collision between two
passenger trains on the Norfolk & Western Railroad, at Walton, Va.,
which resulted in the death of 5 passengers and the injury of 10 pas-
sengers and 7 employees. After inve-tigation of this aprident I re-
spect fully ubimliit the following report:
This accident. nccirred on the Radford division, which extendi1-
from Roanoke, Va., to Walton, Va., a distance of 41 miles. At Wal-
ton it divides, one double-track line extending to Bluefield, W. Va.,
and another double-track line extending to Radlford, 41 miles, beyond
which point it is single track to Bristol. Extending eastward from
Walton it is a three-track -road for a distance of about 9 miles to the
top of Chrictiansbilrg Hill, the track on the south being uiled for east-
bound passenger trains, the middle track for ea-:tlbolnd, freighlit
trains, and the track on the north for westbound mov\'ienits. Trains
are operated by tiiime-table and train orders and an automatic block
signal system. The accompanying diagram shows the approxinmte
layout of the tracks in this vicinity, together with various other
features involved in the accident.
At Walton there is a 3.-lever electric interlodking plant, all
switches and signals at that point being controlled from a tower
located in the an2le formed by the intersection of the Bluefield and
Bristol lines. Opposite this tower on the south side of the Bristol
line is interlocking signal 14-L governing eastbound mov-emi'nt on
that line. Illustration No. 1 is a view of this signal looking eastward.
At a point 759 feet. east. of this signal is interlocking -ignal 8-L,
which protects the crossover switch cornneting the miildle track with
the erntlaboiln main track. Thi- is a two-arm, two-po-ition lower
luad'rant signal; the top arl'ii i- a senliailtormIatic intcei king signal'
governing miivement of trains from the eastlbolnd track of the Brlistol
line over the eaasbound main track east of Wallton: thlCe I. ttomr arm is
a calling-on signal, controlled by1 the (crssover switch anl an ielectric-
push button or switch in tle tower, used as a pernis-ive signal
for the purpose of authorizing trains, to proceed with caution be-


.... I .


yond the interlocking signal when the latter is in the stop position
and when the crossover switch is properly lined up for an eastbound
movement from the Bristol line. Illustration No. 2 shows signal 8-L
with the calling-on signal displaying a permissive indication. The
signals at this point are electrically lighted. The night color indica-
tions of these two signals are as follows: Both signals, red, stop; top
signal red and bottom signal yellow, proceed with great caution; top
signal green and bottom signal red, proceed.
At the time of the accident the rear end of the first train was
standing on the eastbound main track at a point about 1,290 feet
east of signal 8-L, while water was being taken at the water tank. A
few hundred feet east of signal 8-L is a transfer platform where
passengers are transferred between through passenger trains and a
shuttle train which usually stands on the middle track. This shut-
tle train operates between Walton and Radford, on the Bristol line.
At the time of the accident the shuttle train was on the middle track
with the engine clear of the crossover and the rear end of the train
about 400 feet west of the rear end of the train which was taking
water on the eastbound main track.
Approaching the point of collision on the Bluefield line from the
west there is a 6-degree curve to the left 1,722 feet in length, this
curve coming to an end a short distance east of where the double
track of the Bristol line connects with the north and middle tracks
of the three-track portion of the road east of Walton tower. East-
bound passenger trains after passing around this curve then pass
through a crossover leading from the middle track to the eastbound
main track. Approaching on the Bristol line from the west there is
a curve to the right varying from 4 degrees to 5 degrees and 46
minutes, the total length of this curve being slightly over 1,300 feet.
This curve ends about 100 feet east of signal 14-L. Just west of the
point where the eastbound track of the Bristol line joins the east-
bound track of the Bluefield line and continues eastward as the
middle track, there is a switch leading to the eastbound main track
on the right of the middle track. With the exception of the
switches and crossovers, the track is tangent for a distance of nearly
2,000 feet, from the junction of the Bluefield and Bristol lines to a
point beyond where the collision occurred. On account of an em-
bankment and a building on the inside of the curve on the Bristol
line the view of engine crews approaching signals 14-L and 8-L is
restricted to about 1,000 feet. The grade is practically level for
several thousand feet. At the time of the accident the weather was
Eastbound passenger train 2d No. 4, en route from Cincinnati,
Ohio, to Roanoke, Va., consisted of 6 steel baggage cars, 2 steel sleep-
ing cars, and 3 wooden coaches, hauled by engine 120, and was in


charge of Conductor Munsey and Enginemaln Heslep. It left Blhe-
field at 4.15 p. m., 6 hours and 50 minutes late, pas~cd Walton, ac-
cording to the block sheet, at 6.36 p. m., 7 hours and 15 minutes late,
pulled through the crlos.soN-r to the eathllound main track, and
stopped at the water tank for water. The train had been standing
at this point about five minutes when its rear endl \vas struck by
passenger train No. 26.
Eastbound passenger train No. 26, en route from Memphis,
Tenn., to New York, N. Y., consisted of 1 mail car, 1 ,oiiibiniation
car, 3 sleeping cars, 1 dining car, and 2 coaclhes all of steel construc-
tion, hauled by engine 106, and was in charge of Conductor Davis
and Engineian Hooper. It left Bristol, according to the train sheet.
at 3.34 p. m., 2 hours and 29 minutes late, passed Walton at 6.43 p. m.,
2 hours and 22 minutes late, and at about 6.44 p. m. collided with
the rear end of train 2d No. 4 while traveling at a .peed believed to
have been about 20 miles an hour.
The rear car of train 2d No. 4 was forced forward and upward,
telescoping the car ahead two-thirds its length, the body of that car
being entirely demolished. The body of the rear car was quite
badly damaged and its rear end was penetrated by engine 106 as
far as the smokestack of the engine. The third car from the rear in
train 2d No. 4 was forced against the steel sleeping car ahead of it
and considerably damaged. The other cars in this train were not
materially damaged. Engine 106 was not derailed and except for
the front end of the engine no damage was sustained by any of the
equipment in train No. 26.
Engineman Heslep, of train 2d No. 4, stated that after stopping
at Walton tower to receive a train order he pulled ahead slowly on
the eastbound track and stopped for water. He then released the
train brakes and kept the independent brakes applied on the engine.
He did not sound the whistle signal for the flagman to go back.
After taking water he called in the flagman and as he finished sound-
ing the whistle he saw two white lights about opposite the rear of
the next to the last car in his train moving away from the track
down the embankment, and at the same time the slack ran up and
moved his engine ahead a distance of 6 or 8 feet. This occurred after
his train had been standing about 3 or 4 minutes. He looked at his
watch about 40 seconds afterwards and it was then 6.44.40 p. m. He
further stated that when passing the shuttle train he did not notice
any smoke or steam blowing across the track. He also stated that
he had operated trains over the Bristol line for several months and
that with the top arm at signal 8-L displaying a red indication and a
yellow indication displayed by the bottom or calling-on arm, it meant
that the switches were lined up but the track was not clear, and to pro-
ceed prepared to stop, no speed limit being prescribed. He con-


sidered that the provisions of rule No. 708 applied as to the manner
in which the calling-on signal should be obeyed.
Rule 708, which is printed in the rule book among the manual
block rules reads as follows:
Enigilneler and conductors running on permissive Ilock c;~rd otr've
block signal must handle their trains with great cantion. 'Where view is ob-
scured, lsperil must be ,relii'ed to insure againstt c'lllixinn with a train running
The responsibility for collidilng with trains in block \\hen riuning Con per-
missive block card, or permissive block signal, will vrett \\itl the train receiving
and imoing under such card or signal. This will not relieve conduirtor iand
engineer of train stopping in block or between stations froiio protecting as re-
quired by rule 99.
Nothing in these rules will relieve train and engine crews from the fullest
observance of all the general and special rules governing the movement of
Engiinciman Heslep further -.tated that it was not the general
practice to protect by flag while stopping at this point to take water,
but that he thought it should be done.
Fireman Long, of train 2d No. 4, said that. tle slack ran lup within
2 or 3 seconds after the engineman fini-hed sounding the whistle call-
ing in the flagmlran. He looked back inumiediately but did not see any
lights. Fireman Long also said that he had noticed quite a little
smoke and steam blowing across the track from the engine of the
shuttle train, which obscured the view to snine extent.
Head Brakenian Millory stated that when the train stopped at
the water tank he descended to the ground from the next to the last
car, looked back and saw the flagman with his red lantern, and then
started toward the head end looking over the train. Hie had reached
a point about seven car lengths fromll the rear of the train when the
collision occurred.
Conductor M1unsey, of train 2d No. 4, stated that when his train
stopped at the water tank at Walton he was in the second car from
the rear. He thought this stop was made at about 6.37 p. in. He
then walked back through the train to the rear in order to see that
the fla-gman went back. The door at the rear of the car being open,
he could see the flagnian going back, and by the time lie reached the
rear platform the flangman was back about 6 car lengths and still
walking back. He remained on the rear platform until train No. 26
appeared around the curve west of the tower. At this time he could
clearly see the train, his view not being obscured by any smoke or
steam from thel engine of the shuttle train. He estimated the speed
of train No. 26 when passing the tower at about 30 miles an hour,
and he thought then that it 'was going to collide with his train. The
engineinan was working steam and did not shut off until within 10
car lengths of the rear of train 2d No. 4. He saw the flagman giving

F ii;. 1.- lt r 1..i!,- signal 14-L, governin'l eas l found movermen s on Bristol
line at junction with three-track portion of road.

F[. 2. Interlocking signal 8-L, which protects crossover switch connecting
middle track with east bounds main track.

T i.

Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries with support from LYRASIS and the Sloan Foundation


Shuttle train

14-L L


75Ff 129F

Point of collision /

,\4 Frt

Not to scale
Dotted Ihe i-ndicates route of trarn No 26.


759 Ft.

1287 Ft



stop signals but did not notice anyone signaling from the shuttle
train. He did not think the brakes on train No. 26 were applied until
after the engine had passed the flagman, and was within 8 car lengths
of his train. When he saw that a collision was inevitable he jumped
from the train and ran down the em(ban11kment, on the south side of
the track. He evtiimzated the speed of train No. 26 at the time of
the collision to have been 20 or 25 miles an hour. After the collision
he came up to the engine of train No. 26 and looked at his watch;
it. was then 6.40 p. m. He did not know exactly how far back the
flagman went, but though t he mu4t have been near the end of the
shuttle train, a distance of approximately 400 feet. In his opinion
the flagman could halve gone back nearly to the tower in three
imiinutes. At the time of the collision he did not have a lantern,
having previously loaned his own lantern to the head brakeian, and
lie said he did not see anyone, with lanterns running down the em-
bankment. The markers on his train were burning brightly and
were in good condition. Conductor Munsey also said that it was his
practice when stopping for water to see that the flagman went back
to protect the train, and also when stopping at the transfer platform
if the stop was of more than three minutes' duration.
Flagman Pyrtle, of train 2d No. 4, stated that when his train
-to)lpped he started back, walking slowly, and was about 6 or 8 car
lengths from his train when he saw train No. 26 about opposite the
tower, at which time its speed was alrbut 45 miles an hour and the
engine workin-g steam. At this time he did not notice any smoke or
steam from the engine of the shuttle train. He also noticed that the
lv.adllight on the engine of train No. 26 was dim and he thought they
Mre u' ing a lantern instead of the electric headlight. As soon as
flth train came in sight he began to give stop signals, continuing
to give them until he had to jump from the track. At this time he
was about 10 or 12 car lengths from the rear of his train, and he esti-
1mated the speed of train No. 26 to have been about 20 or 25 miles
an hour. He thought steam was shut off when the engine was 3 or 4
c:1ir lengths from him and that the brakes were applied at about the
time the engine passed him. He was about opposite the next to the
ha.-t car in train No. 26 when it came to a stop after the collision. He
stated that he did not light a fusee because train No. 26 would have
passed him before he could have done so, and he thought he could
do better by signaling witl his red lantern. Flagman Pyrtle also
stated that he ran about a car length back from the track as the train
)pased him. When his attention was called to the fact that he had
estimated the speed of train No. 26 when it first came in sight as 45
miles an hour, and that in spite of the fact that the engine had been
working steam until it was within 3 or 4 car lengths of him he had
estimated its speed at that time as 20 or 25 miles an hour, he said that


it could have been reduced from 45 to 25 miles an hour within 3 or 4
car lengths; also that the train might have passed him at a speed of
30 miles an hour.
Engineman Hooper, of train No. 26, stated that after leaving
Pulaski, about 18 miles west of Walton, he cut in the electric head-
light, found that it was not working, and had a message dropped off
to. have a man ready at East Radford, 3 miles west. of Walton, to
make repairs, but on reaching that point found that this message had
not been delivered. In order to avoid delay, a lantern was placed in
the headliglt, and the train proceeded. A clear indication was re-
ceived at signal 14-L, opposite the tower, while at the next signal,
8-L, the interlocking signal was in the stop position while the calling-
on signal was displaying a yellow or permissive indication. He had
allowed his train to drift around the curve at a speed of about 15
miles an hour, and he stated that it could not have gone much
farther without working steam Accordingly as soon as his engine
reached signal 8-L he began to work steam, and shortly afterwards
ran into a bank of smoke and steam which blew across the track
from the engine of the shuttle train. This bank of smoke and steam
extended a distance of about three passenger car lengths and obscured
his view of the track ahead, but he did not shut off steam. As soon
as he had passed through it, at which time the speed of his train had
been increased to a1bolt. 20 miles an hour, he saw a red light, which
afterwards turned out to be the right marker on train 2d No. 4.
At this time he had been working steam for a distance about equal to
the length of his train. He then leaned out of the cab window, saw
two red lights, and, realizing there was a train ahead of him, applied
the air brakes in emergency. This reduced the speed of his train to
such an extent that at first'he thought he would stop in time to avoid
a collision. He thought the rear end of train 2d No. 4 was about
four or five pa.-senger car lengths distant when he first saw it. He also
stated that he did not see anything of the flagman either before or
after the collision. His understanding of a permissive indication
at signal 8-L was that it gave him permission to pass the interlocking
signal under control, proceeding in that manner until the next signal
was encountered, and that in case of accident he would be the re-
sponsible party. He was unable to say why he failed to shut off
steam or apply the brakes when he encountered the bank of smoke
and steam which obscured his view. He thought that if the head-
light had been burning he would have been able to see the train
much sooner than he did. This was his third trip on train No. 26,
and he stated he had had trouble with the electric lights on the en-
gine on each trip. He had reported them on the proper form and had
also made a verbal report to the foreman in an endeavor to have them


repaired. On the trip on which this accident occurred the electric
cab lights burned satisfactorily until the lheadligllt :as turned on;
then he found that the headlight would not burn, while the cab lights
began to flicker and from this point to the Iscene of the accident the
lights were flickering while the train was in motiio, lw ing totally ex-
tinguished at one instant and then burning much brighter than usual
the next instant.
Fireman Martin, of train No. 26, said that .-ignzil 14-L was railed
green by the enginelan, the next signal 8-L being called yellow. He
did not see it himself on account of looking out on the left side to -,
the position of the train order bIcard at the tower. The speed of the
train at this time wai about 15 miles an hour. At some point between
the tower and sigil1 8-L the engineila-an began to work -t,:inll, while
he went back in the coal pit and began to shovel down some ci;al. On
account of working on the coal he did not know how far the ngliine-
man worked steam or at what speed the train was moving when the
engineman applied the brakes, nor did he see the fIll;guini or the rear
end of train 2d No. 4. His first knowledge of anything wrong Nwas
when the enginemian called to him at the time the brakes were ap-
plied; the collision occurred before he was able to look out and see
what was the matter. Fireman; Martin further stated that his under-
standing of a yellow or permissive indication of the calling-on signal
was that it was the same as the yellow indicattion of an automatic
block signal; that it meant that. the track was clear to the next suc-
ceeding signal and to approach that signal prepared to stop. He did
not remember having previously received a permissive indication of
this signal. He had been in engine service since 1903, and had been
an engineman since 1912.
Conductor Davis, of train No. 26, stated that theit speed of his train
at the interlocking plant was in the neighborhood of 20 miles an
hour, and he thought that this had been inerea-ed to about 25 miles
an hour when the brakes were applied. At the time of the collision
the speed was about 20 miles an hour. Conductor Davis also stated
that it was the practice to flag when taking water at this point and
also when stopping at the transfer platform more than two or three
Head Brakeman Cruise, of train No. 26, stated that he thought the
train had been operated at the usual rate of speed between Radford
and Walton, about 25 or 30 miles an hour, and that this speed was re-
duced through the interlocking plant to about 15 miles an hour. He
was standing in the open door of the baggage compartment of the
combination car and he said that the engineman began to work steam
as the train was passing signal 14-L, the speed being increased until
it was 20 miles an hour at the time of the collision.


Rear Brakem in Keesee, of train No. 26, stated that the train ran at
the usual rate of speed approaching Walton and that the speed was
reduced through the interlocking plant, being about 20 miles an hour
when passing the tower. He thought the ,peed at the time of the
collision was about 25 miles an hour. When going back to flag he did
not notice any smoke or steam from the engine of the shuttle train.
The shuttle train ron,-isted of 5 cars, with the engine on the
wc-t end, but headed east. Conductor Wright, who was in charge of
this train, stated that after train 2d No. 4 came to a stop he walked
to the rear of his train to see if ilit -' were any pa-engetrs to be
picked up and then returned to the cotiilin;lition car, the third car
in his train, and remained there until he heard train No. 26 ap-
pr achinlg. He then vwmt out on the car platform and looked to see
if train 2d No. 4 had gone. He then saw the flagman abllit 4 car
lengths from the rear of train 2d No. 4 standing in the middle of the
track giving stop -iglnls ititli his laItern. Conductor Wright stated
that he then conimivlen 'ed to give stop rigna;ls from the platform on
-which he w:;is st;:lnding, which was on the fillliiall's side of train No.
26, using his white lantern for this purpose. As the engine 1pas-ed
him he c:ll.ld to the engine crew, and he said that it was about this
time that the brakes were applied. He did not pay much attention
to the speed of train No. 26, but thought it was then about 25 or
30 miles an hour. He did not notice any imoke or steam blowing
a(tu.)-, the track. Conductor Wright further stated that he operated
regularly between East Radford and Walton, that eastbound pas-
.-~,rn'r' Ir.-ini seldom took water at Walton, and that nearly always
they had f;lag protection if they remiiiind over 2 or 3 minutes. His
! iunderstanding of a petliii-mii ie indication of the calling-on signal was
that a train should prri-ceid prepared to find a train occupying the
t rie'k ahead.
Conductor, who was on the shuttle train, stated that when
he heard train No. 26 approalching he went out on the car platform
and on looking out saw the markers of train 2d No. 4, but he did
not see the flagngian. He said Conductor Wright gave stop signals
with his lantern and that both of them called to the engine crew
as the train p: --'ed, running at a speed estimated by him to have been
about 15 miles an hour. He did not notice any smoke or steam ob-
:se.iring his view of train No. 26 as it approached.
As-i-iant. Road Foreiiman of Engines Blankenship was on the en-
gine of the shuttle train at the time train No. 26 approached. He
heard the engine working steam and thought that the speed of the
train when it passed him was about 35 miles an hour. He stated
that the brakes were applied as the next to the last car in train No.
26 was pas-ing him and that the last car stopped about, even with
the east end of the first car in the ishuttle train.


Operator IIarmnii, on duty at Walton tower at the time of the
.:c'ieiidt, statedl that train 2d No. 4 ,:pa-'ed at 6.36 p. m. When the
engine of train No. 26 was lpa--ing the tower he 'ca,:-ed the calling-on
signal to display a perini-.-ive indication. At tis time he did not
know of the loc'atioin of train 2d No. 4 exceptt, that it had not pas-ed
Vicker, the next s-talion eca:t of Walton. IIe w.- unable to estimate
how fai:t train No. 2; w as traveling, but stated that it was faster than
any p)l--i cger Ir;ine he had ever seen going through the interlocking
Aplanlit. and' hle thought that if he had not given a permissive indication
ait the calling-on s-i.nJ:il the train could not have stopped without run-
ning the .igiwal. HIe statcd that lie expected trainii 2d No. 2 to arrive
from Bluefield very oon after train No. 26, probably 10 or 15
minutes, and lthit Ih c(on-ildered he :had1 smfil i-nt, reason for u-ing the
I'allig-on signal not only on account of train 2,1 No. 2 being expected,
but because it was desire to keep the interlocking plant clear at all
times on account of the frequent. mov\ci nt, of trains and engines
back and forth. IHe said it was cil-.toiiary to use the calliln-on sig-
1;al, at all times and for all pur)pose-,, and he considered it good prac-
tice to use them regardless of whether or not -oin-, other train w as
due, and that in this particular case he did what he ordinarily would
have done to advance train movemlients, the ,-e. of the permissive
signal not being limited to cases where" their use is lw(ce-a;ry to
avoid cunge.-tion. According to his undier:tanding these calling-on
-ignals were installed to keep traffic moving as well as to reduce con-
ge-wtion through the limits of the interlocking plant. He also said
tlit on two occasion l he had receiv-ed protests from ,ngineinon about
proceeding beyond the stop-and-stay interlocking -iginl.s when in the
stop position, and he had explained to them the i',iiirenelint-. of the
bullet in relati \e to the use of the calling-on signal'.
Signal Maintainer Anthony stated that he knew of two specific
ca-c- in which enginemen had stopped at the calling-on igll:n-i at
Walton when they were displaying permissive indications. He also
stated that before the calling-on signal -was in-.talled at signal 8-L,
when a train was taking coal at the coal wharf a following train,
,ii account of not being able to pass the signal, had to stop on the
curve. In starting from this location trains frequently were broken
in two. He considered that the use of the calling-on signal decrea-ed
the number of shop cars from this cause by 75 per cent. Even with
the coal wharf now moved to Vicker, an 85-car freight train would
often foul the track circuit for the block east of Walton, controlling
signal 8-L, and thus necessitate the use of the calling-on signal. He
thought that this signal increased the freight efficiency of the plant
by 50 per cent, meaning that where a freigliht train formerly used 15
minutes in clearing the plant it could now do so in 7 or 8 minutes.


Signal Engineer Richards stated that engines formerly took coal
at a coaling station near the water tank and that the only way
helper engines could be moved ahead and coupled to the rear of a
trnin was by hand signals, the use of which was prohibited in inter-
locking plants. The rules also required the engineman before pro-
ceeding beyond the signal to inform himself whether or not the de-
rail was closed. It was for the purpose of avoiding hand signals and
messages to enginemen that the calling-on signals at this point were
iniht:lled, as well as for the purpo e of taking care of passenger trains
which might have work to do in the block, as in the case of the shut-
tle train. It was not intended, however, that the calling-on signals
should be used for the purpose of permitting other trains to enter the
block when it was occupied except in case of necessity, and unless
absolutely necessary he did not approve of the use of the calling-
on signals except for the purpose of advancing trains in order to
clear the interlocking plant. He thought it would be safer if trains
were brought to a stop before being given a permissive indication,
and that this would not result in serious delay under normal traffic
Assitta;nt Train Maitter' Walker stated that he examined appli-
cants for employment in train service as well as brakemen and fire-
men for promotion to the positions of conductor and engineman, and
that in such exami-inations the operation of the calling-on signal was
taken up in connection with the instruction in automatic and inter-
locking signals; he thought it was generally understood that it was
a permissive signal to which rule 708 applies. He did not know of
any misunderstanding due to the fact that the signal is in automatic
territory, while rule 708 is printed in the rule book among the manual
block rules.
This accident was caused by the failure of Engineman Hooper of
train No. 26 to operate his train "with great caution" through the
block section east of Walton as required by the rules, after receiving
a permissive signal indication. A contributing cause was the failure
of Flagman Pyrtle, of t rain 2d No. 4, properly to protect his train.
With interlocking signal 8-L displaying a stop indication Engine-
man Hooper knew positively that the track ahead was occupied by a
preceding train or obstructed in some other manner, and although
he received a permissive indication of the calling-on arm at signal
8-L, giving him the right to pass the interlocking signal in the stop
position, the only definite information this permissive indication
gave was that the switches were properly lined up for the movement
of his train. It was still necessary for him, as required by rule 708,
to proceed with great caution and to watch out for a train ahead or
some other obstruction which would endanger the passing of his
train. Under such circumstances there can be no excuse for his fail-


ure to have his train under full control at the time of passing the
permissive signal, and while running through the block governed by
it; in any event he should have shut off steam and have been pre-
pared to stop quickly when running through the .imolke and steam
which he states obscured his view. Had he done so, it is priibable
that he would have been able to stop his train in time to avoid the
According to Flagman Pyrtle's own statelmenti he walked 1bck
slowly, and in spite of the fact. that his train had been landing about
five minutes before the collision occurred his statements indicatot that
he went back only a distance of about 400 feet. Had he utilized all
the time at his disposal he could easily have gone back( as far as sig-
nal 8-L, which would have placed him beyond the smoke and steam
which Engineman Hooper claimed obscured his vision, and it is prob-
able that he could have warned the approaching train in time to have
averted the collision.
Engineman Hooper was employed as a section man in July, 1879,
transferred to coaler in October of the same year, promoted to fire-
man in 1881 and to engineman in 1883. His record was excellent.
Flagman Pyrtle was employed as a brakeman in January, 1914, and
in October of the same year was disciplined for responsibility in con-
nection with the derailment of an engine. His record since that time
was clear.
At the time of the accident the crew of train No. 26 had been on
duty nearly 4 hours, after periods off duty of over 21 hours. The
train crew of train 2nd No. 4 had been on duty about 12 hours, after
nearly 18 hours off duty. The engine crew of this train had been on
duty about 4 hours, after 7 hours and 25 minutes off duty.
In view of the circumstances existing prior to this accident Oper-
ator Harman did not exercise good judgment in allowing train No. 26
to pass signal 8-L when he knew that the block section east of that
signal was still occupied by a passenger train, although in doing so
he was following a practice which had grown up at this point. In
January, 1917, calling-on arms installed on signals 14-L and 8-L
were placed in service for the purpose of allowing permissive move.
ments through the interlocking in order to prevent delays due to the
block sections being occupied, signal 8-L being the last eastbound
interlocking signal. The particular service intended to be performed
by the calling-on arm at signal 8-L, according to the officials of the
company, was to enable helpers to advance and couple to the rear of
trains without the use of hand signals, and to allow trains to close up
at a coal wharf which was at that time located just east of Walton;
this coal wharf has since been moved to another location.
The statements of Operator Harmon, however, indicate that a
practice has grown up of using the calling-on signal for all pur-


poses, even though the train so advanced might be so far ahead of a
following train that no delay to the following train or conge-stion
of any kind would result. It is noted that such a practice does not
give even a much protection to the train ahead as would be afforded
by an automatic block signal, a stop indication of which, under the
rules of this railway, requires the approaching train to cole to a
full stop before proceeding under control, whereas a train receiving
a permissive indication of the calling-on signal at this point is not
required to stop. While no specific instructions had been issued to
operators regarding the use of permissive signals at Walton, it was
not intended that this (alling-on signal should be u-ed to advance
succeeding through movements except in case of necessity, and no
such nere~s-ity existed in this case; the signal engineer stated that
unless such a necessity should arise he would not approve of its use
for any purpose other than that for which it was installed. In view
of these facts, imniiediate steps should .be taken toward restric-ting
the use of the calling-on arm at signal 8-L to its original functions,
and it is rcoiIineneded that such instructions be issued as will pre-
vent its use to authorize the movement of a passenger train past the
interlocking signal in stop position or to authorize the movement of
any following train past the interlocking signal in the stop position
when the block section east of Walton is occupied by a passenger
train, except in case of emergency.
Attention is also called to the fact that Fireman Martin, of train
No. 26, who was a pr-,omoted man, stated that he understood a yellow
or permissive indication of the calling-on arm at signal 8-L to mean
that the track was clear as far as the next eastbound automatic block
signal. Such an undelrstanding not only shows that he was not fully
acquainted with the instructions issued in regard to this signal at
the time the signal was placed in service, but also indicates a laxity
upon the part of those officials whose duty it is to examine and in-
struct train-service employees, to know that they are qualified for
service, and to know that such rules are being properly observed in
daily practice. Immediate steps should also be taken to see that all
employees fully understand and live up to the rules under which
they are operating, for misunderstandings of this charnieter upon
the part of employees jeopardize the safety of the traveling public.
It is noted that the three rear cars of train 2d No. 4, in which the
casualties occurred were of wooden construction; had steel cars been
used instead, there can be no doubt that the results of this accident
would have been far less disastrous.
Respectfully submitted.
Chief, Burlcu of Safety.


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