Report of the chief inspector of safety appliances covering his investigation of an accident which occurred on the Centr...


Material Information

Report of the chief inspector of safety appliances covering his investigation of an accident which occurred on the Central Vermont Railway near Georgia, Vt., on November 16, 1913
Physical Description:
10 p. : ; 25 cm.
United States -- Interstate Commerce Commission. -- Division of Safety Appliances
Belnap, H. W ( Hiram W )
Government Printing Office
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Railroad accidents -- Vermont   ( lcsh )
History -- Georgia (Vt.)   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"January 12, 1914."
General Note:
Submitted: H.W. Belnap.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004955401
oclc - 74437705
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BER ;16, 191l.

JANUARY 12. 1914.
To the Comin ion :
On November 16, 1913, there was a head-end collision between two
freight trains on the Central Vermont Railway near Georgia, Vt.,
which resulted in the death of one fireman and one trespasser, and
the injury of two employees. After investigation as to the nature
and cause of this accident, I beg to submit the following report:
On the d;te of the accident southbound extr:n 777, consisting of 23
cars and a caboose, hauled by locomotive No. 777, in charge of Con-
ductor Muzzy and Engineman Randall, left St. Albans, Vt.. at 11.50
a. in., with train order No. 104, reading as follows:
Eng. 777 run extra St. Albans to Essex Juinctiui, take sl.i!:. and meet 4
extras, 410, 413, 411. and 4 I' north at Georg;in.
Extra 777 passed Oakland, the first station north of Georgi:L and
4.4 miles distant therefrom, at 12.16 p. in.. and had reiachled a point
about 21 miles north of Georgia when it collided with extra 410, the
collision occurring at about 12.20 p. m.
Northbound extra 410, consisting of 27 cars and a caboos.e, hauled
by locomotive No. 410, in charge of Conductor Holland and Engine-
iman Br,,wn, left Junction with an order giving it the right
to run from Essex Junction to St. Albans and to meet southbound
extra 768 at Colchester, a station 10.5 miles south of Georgia. While
at Colchester the crew in charge of extra 410 received a copy of train
order No. 104, quoted above. Engineman Brown received his
copy of this order as the train was pulling out of the siding, and
in some manner read the meeting point named in the order as Oak-
land instead of Georgia." The fireman, biead brakeman, and
la;gnIman did not read the order, while the conductor claimed that he
did not receive a copy of it, and as no middle order was issued at
Georgia the train-order board at that point was in the clear position

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when extra 410 approached, and Engineman Brown ran his train
past that station with the intention of meeting extra 777 at Oakland.
The speed of each train at the time of the collision was believed to
have been about 25 miles an hour. The weather was clear.
Both engines were badly damaged and 14 freight cars were either
totally or partially destroyed, while considerable damage was done
to the track.
The northern di% vision of the Central Vermont Railway, on which
this accident occurred, is a single-track line. At the time of this
accident trains were operated by train orders and time-card rights
without block signals, orders being transmitted by telephone, with the
telegraph as an auxiliary for use in case of emergency. The collision
occurred on a 1 10' curve, 2,416 feet in length, at a point about 1,000
feet south of its northern end. Approaching this curve from the
north there is a tangent about 2,000 feet in length, and approaching
from the south there is about 1,900 feet of tangent.
Rule No. 208 of the operating rules of the Central Vermont Rail-
way provides in part as follows:
A train order to be sent to two or more otfices must be transmitted simul-
taneously to as many of them as practicable.
The several addresses must be in the order of suiiperit 'ity of trains. mul when
practicable, must include the operator at the imeeti1m or waiting point, each
office taking its proper address.
When not sent simultaneously to all, the order must be sent first to the
operator at the meeting or w iting point and then to trains in the order of their
SThere was an open telegraph office at Georgia equipped with all
the necessary facilities which would make it practicable to furnish
the agent, who handled orders at that point, with a copy of train
order No. 104. Although there was no question but what it would
have been practicable to have issued a middle order at Georgia, Dis-
patcher Stevens stated that he did not do so because the middle order
was never used unless passenger trains were involved. No instruc-
tions that this was the manner in which rule No. 208 was to be obeyed
had ever been given to him by the superintendent or tra innmaster.
SSuperintendent Keefe stated that he had full knowledge that
middle orders were not being issued when first-class trains were not
involved. His predecessor had ruled that the requi recent was not
to, be followed, and the custom had therefore been continued. He
considered that the use of the middle order would increase safety
in train operation, that it would be p)rnftinhble. and he presiumed
that it would be advisable to adopt the rule requiring its use.
.Trainmaster Fitzgerald stated that at the time the present book
of rules went into effect, June 18, 1911, he was given to iinder4tand
that the middle order would not be used in the case of freight trains.
He did not see any ,'ircilar issued relative to the matter ind did


not remember where he secured his information. unless it was when
he was writing up the book of rules.
Under date of November 1, 1913, Circular No. 28, calling attention
to the fact that cer'ta:inl operating rules were not being obeyed, was
issued over the signatiire of General Superintelndlon of Trans'porta-
tion Russell. This circular r read in full as follows:

The filli\wiiir is an extract from rule 210, page 4: ;, Book of Rules and
Regulations. reltlilng to 31 orders:
"The conductor of the train addrle.-sed will read the order aloud to the oper-
ator and sign it." The oilenr;itor will then send the si'iiLtillro, preceded by the
number of the order, to the train dispatcher. The re-osii,-.. 'Complete,' and
the timne. with the initials of the superintendent or trainmaster, will then be
given by the train dislbiathller. After receiving this response, the operator will
write on each copy the word Complete,' the time, and his last name in full, and
deliver a copy to each person ;d'ldressed, except engineers. The copy for each
engineerl must be delivered to him personally by the conductor, who will require
the order to be read aloud for comparison, and (e,' r will then sign con-
ductor's copy."
Rule 24~4. lpage 34, makes it incumbent on conductors and engineers to require
brakemen i iil firemen to know the contents of all train orders.
Investigation dle \e lps that some operators are delivering orders to brakemen
and firemen, the latter are ,ari.elptimu them, and conductors and engineers are
permitting it to be done; also when light engines are run over the road and
accompanied by a flagman, not a qualified conductor, it has occurred that the
,ll,'eafr has 'permitted the flagman to -i-in for the engineer and the tltter has
accepted the order without question.
Conductors and enmimleeirs. for the protection of yourselves and crew, also
paIsenlsi ts ;and pr.p'erty intrusted to your care, you are flunliilllden to allow
Hereafter an operator who permits anyone to sign an order other than
the conductor of the train, engineer of light engine, or IJ1:llific'd conductor
pilot. a conductor who allows the brakeman or fireman to do so, or an trariioeer
who accepts order from anyone other than the coimdiuii-tr. (except in case of
light eiitiine without qualified conductor pilot), as well as the brakeman or
fii r ii;ii involved, will be dismissed from the service, and this warning is given
with the desire that omplliiyees concerned may heed it and avoid no'rc-ii y for
such action.
Agent Boyce, located at Colchester, stated that extra 410 arrived
at that point at 11.05 a. in. Some time after its arrival he was noti-
fied by the dispatcher that the latter had an order for extra 410, as
well as three other extras which were following that train. The
statements of Agent Boyce as to what he did immediately afterwards
were conflicting. He first stated that he went out to the station plat-
form and told a man sitting there that he had an order for him; that
the man had been sitting there ever since extra 410 arrived, and that
he assumed him to be the conductor of that train. Agent Boyce
afterwardl~ntated that he first asked the man if he was the conductor
of extra 410 and that the man replied in the affirmative. In any


event he st a ted that the man came into the office while he was repeat-
ing the order back to the dispatcher, and as soon as he had finished
repeating the order he handed two copies of it to this man, who
had signrcd the name Holland," procured a clearance, and departed.
Agent Boyce did not put the train-order board in the stop position
as soon as he \\N ; notified by the dispatcher that there was an order
for the northbound extras because southbound extra 768 was then
appr';iailing and he did not want to stop that train. As a matter of
fact, however, he did display the train-order board before extra 7TS
had entirely passed the station. It was seen by the conductor and
flagman of that train, and when their train came to a stop at 11.45
a. m. on account of the switch at the south end of the passing track
being blocked the conductor went into the office to sign the (order he
supposed was to be issued for his train. He was then told by the
agent that the latter did not intend to display the -ignal until extra
768 had pasedl, as the order was for the northbound extras, and was
given a clear.;nre card. Agent Boyce further stated that he did not
read the order to the man he supposed to be the conductor of extra
410, as the litter was in the office while he was repeating the order
back to the dipatcher and( mii.t have heard its contents at that time.
The man did not read the order back to him, as required by the
rules, neither did he ask him to do so. Agent Boyce further stated
that extra 410 was pulling by the station at this time; that the train-
order board was still displayed; that he did not come out of the
office to close the passing-track switch after it had left; and that at
no time while extra 410 was standing at the station did Conductor
Holland come to the office.
Conductor Holland, of extra 410, stated that on the arrival of his
train at Colchester, Flagman Bronson went forward and he told the
flagman to have the engineman signal him by means of the whistle
if the train-order board was displayed. This signal was not given
and he supposed that there were no orders for his train. Leaving
Colchester he was on the rear of the caboose on the side nearest the
station, at .which time the train-order board was in the proceed posi-
tion. When the nfl:agan got on the caboose as it was passing the
station he did not give the conductor a copy of train order No. 104,
and did not say that he had signed or received any orders. Con-
ductor Holland asked the flagman for orders, and the flagman re-
plied asking the conductor to let him see an order which they had
received at a previous station. Flagman Bronson then left him and
went into the cupola of the caboose, having made no direct response
to the conductor's inquiry about orders. Conductor Holland further
stated that sometimes the brakemen and sometimes the operators
signed orders, and that often he would receive an order without
knowing who had signed it, although occasionally he would ask who

signed it. When circular No. 28 was issued lie told his brakemien
about it and had iimpl)r.-'ed u)poin them that they were not to sign any
more orders.
Flagman Brinslon. of extra 410, stated that when the train stopped
at Colchester he went forward to look it over and then went to the
engine and remained there until the train-order board was displayed.
He could not remember whether or not the head brakeila iiad1;I1 said
that there was an order for their train, and stated that before he left
the caboose the conductor said nothing to hiiir aluilt having the en-
gineman signal him by means of the whistle if there wxvz an order
for his train.. When the train-order board was displayed the train
was about ready to start and he at once went to the telegraph office,
at which time the agent was repeating the order back to the dis-
patcher. The dispatcher evidently said something to the agent about
Conductor Holland, as the agent replied that Holland w\vis right
there. On account of the train being ready to leave and several
extras being immediately behind it Flagman Bronson was in a
hurry, and as the conductor was not around he signed the order as
soon as the agent had finished repeating it, took two copies of it,
together with the clen;rance, and started out of the door. When he
signed the order the agent did not ask him if he was Conductor Hlol-
land and did not read the order to him, neither did lie read it back
to the agent. When he left the station his train was already under
way and he siglnled the engineman to slow down and gave him a
copy of the order, not waiting to have the engineman read it to him
or to rend it himself; neither did he stop to have the enginemanl sign
the conductor's copy. He further stated that lie might have told
the engineman that the meeting point was Oakland, but was not posi-
tive about it. When the caboose came along, at which time the train-
order board was still displayed, he got on the rear steps. The con-
ductor then asked him what he had and he handed the other copy of
the order to him, together with the clearance card. The agents had
previously told him that he would attend to the switch, and after
giving the order to the conductor lie did not stop to read it over with
him, but went up into the cupola and as soon as the agent gave him
a signal that the switch was closed he signaled the engineman
and the train proceeded on its way. During this time Conductor
Holland was on the rear steps of the caboose and if he had not
received a train order or a clearance card, or both, should have
stopped the train, in as much a.I the train-order board was dis-
played. At some point between Colelhvter and Georgia he asked the
conductor for the order and the latter replied that lie did not have it,
and the only knowledge F ul;agnin BrIIIn-ii had of the meeting point
Named in the order was his understanding that the operator had said
Oakland. He stated that lie occasionally signed orders for con-


doctors in order to avoid delays, that Conductor Holland had never
approved or disapproved of this practice, and that for years he had
freqliuently signed orders for Conductor Holland.
Head Brakeman McCarthy of extra 410 stated that when the train
reached Colchester he opened the passing-track switch and then got
on the train at about the third or fourth car from the head end.
When it came to a stop he got down, walked back a few car lengths,
and then went to the station platform- and sat down. After a while
the agent came out and asked him if he was the conductor of extra
410. He replied that he was not, but that he would get the conductor,
the agent saying he had an order, Form 31, for that train. Brakeman
McCarthy then went to the engine and asked the eilgiineian to call
the conductor for orders. The latter did not do so, however, but
Flagman Bronson, who was on the engine, at once got off and went
toward the telegraph office. When the train was ready to leave,
Brakeman McCarthy opened the main-line switch and got on the
train when about two or three cars had passed the switch. After
receiving the all-right signal from the rear end of the train he went
forward to the engine. He heard the enginenali state that the meet-
ing point in the order was Oakland, but did not read the order him-
self and did not a-k the engineman to permit him to read it.
Engineman Brown of extra 410 stated he first saw extra 777 when
about 10 car lengths distant. He at once shut off steam, applied the
emergency brakes, called to the fireman to jump, and did so himself.
On account of receiving a train order and clearance card he stated
that he might have overlookeil the train-order board when leaving
Colchester, and for that re;ison was unable to state whether or not it
was displayed at that time. When Flagman Bronson handed the
order to him, at which time the train was proceeding slowly, he un-
derstood the flagman to say that they would meet at Oakland. He
read over the order and misread the meeting point, reading it as
Oakland instead of Georgia. After reading the order he held it out
toward the fireman, but the latter wa-; working on the fire and did
not take it. saying that it was all right, and in as much as the head
brakeman was not on the engine the r-siilt w;>s that no one on the
head end of the train was correctly informed as to the meeting point
on account of the engineman having misread the order. Engineman
Brown further stated that it frequently happened that he would
accept train order.- from br;ikenmen, and -,,ileti mlie without signing
a copy for the conductor; neither did he always read the order alotld
to the conductor or to the person from whom he received it. It had
formerly been quite cii',toma;iry for braikcmen to sign orders for con-
ductors, but lately this pr,;ctice was supp ',cd to have been done away
with; it had not. however, been disco'iitilii'd entirely. Hle could not
Isay positively whether or not Fl];nilman Bronison had ever dellivered


train orders to him on previ,,us occasions, but thought it possible
that he had. He stated, however, that on -.\cvvuIl occasions when
Conductor Holl nd had 1been the con('ductor of his train he had re-
ceived train orders when they had not been signed by the conductor.
Conductor TIghaniii and Flagman MlCoi lnell, of southbound extra
768, stated that when the engilw of their train passed the station
the train-order board was not displayed, but that it was displayed
when all but four or five cars of their train had p:-(1ed. Soon after
extra 768 came to a stop extra 410 departed, Conductor Holland
being seen landingg on the rear platform of the cabo'c,. At that
time the train-order board was displayed, as it had been ever since
extra 768 arrived.
The engineman, firelialn. and head brakeman of extra 777 did not
see extra 410 approaching around the curve until the trains were but
a few car lengths away. They at once jumped from the engine, the
emergency air brakes first having been applied.
It is to be noted that the statements made by the employee., con-
cerning many of the important details connected with this an'idont
are very coniiflicting. It is believed, however, that when Agent Boyce
was notified by the dispatcher that there was an order for extra 410
he went out of the office and asked the man sitting there, who was
Brakenll n McCarthy, if he was the conductor, saying that he had
an order, Form 31, for his train. Brakeman McCarthy then went
to the engine with the intention of having the engiineman summon
the conductor for the purpose of having him sign the order. En-
gineman Brown, however, did not suminon the conductor, but Flag-
man Bronson left the engine, went to the telegraph office, and signed
the order. Flagnian Brn n m-n then returned to the en.gitn,. gave the
engineinn his copy. and got on the caboose when it came along.
The quesitioni of whether or not Flagman Bronson gave Conductor
Holland a copy of the order is a matter of veracity between the two
men. The statements made by other employees, however, especially
the comnductor and flagman of extra 768, indicate that Conductor
Holland was on the rear end of his caboose when the train departed
from Colchester and that the train-order board was displayed at
that time. If he had not received an order, as well as a clearance
card, Conduciltor Holland was disobeying the rules in allowing his
train to pass this train-order board without having a clearance card.
The direct c;,i-e of this acident was the failure of Conductor
Holland and Engiinenlml Brown to cmliply with the order fixing
Georgia as the meeting point of these trains.
If Cconduictor Holland received a copy of the order. then he allowed
his train to pass the meeting pi'int nitnaed therein, while if he did not
receive a copy of it he !lhotild not have allowed his train to leave
Colchester when the train-order board was displayed in the stop po-


sition u less furnished personally by the agent with a clearance card,
Form A, even though train orders might have been received by him.
Conductor Holland also failed to comply with any of the require-
ments of that part of rule No. 210 quoted in circular No. 28, ignored
that part of Circular No. 28 prohibiting the signing of orders by
brakemen, disobeyed that part of rule No. 204 requiring that con-
ductors know that brakemen are familiar with the contents of all
orders, and failed personally to deliver a copy of the order to the
engineman and to require the engineman to read the same and then
sign the conductor's copy.
Engineman Brown also violated rule No. 204 by not requiring the
firelmian and head brakeman to be fully aqciirainted with the contents
of train order No. 104; violated rule No. 210 and Circular No. 28
by not reading the order iloiid for comparison when lie received it,
by not signing the conductor's copy, and by icrepting the order from
a bralkeniain instead of the conductor.
There were, however, several other causes contribution to this acci-
dent in a greater or It-,- degri.e. The nmost important of these was
the failure of Dispatcher Stevenl, to issue a copy of train order No.
104 to the operator at Georgia, as required by that part of rule No.
208 previously quoted. In his failure to obey rule No. 208, however,
Di.paIt llcer Stevens was merely following a Clustom, which had pre-
va;iled upon this railroad for an indefinite period.
Flagman Bronson was to blame for signing train order No. 104 in
violatil of rule No. 210 and Circular No. 28. Having assumed the
duties of the conductor he was also to blame for not reclding the ordei
to the agent before signing it, for not having the order read to him
by Eingienilleai Brown when he gave the engineman his copy of the
order, for not requiring the engineman to sign the conductor's copy,
for not reading over the order with the conductor, and for not mak-
ing himself familiar with the contents of the order.
Agent Boyce failed to obey rule No. 210 and Circular No. 28 by
delivering train order No. 104 to the flagman instead of to the con-
ductor of extr;i 410; he was also to blame for not requiring Flagman
Bronson to read the order to him before signing it and for not obey-
ing that part of rule No. 221 requiring operators to display the stop
signal immediately upon receipt of notification from the di.lp:;tceher
that there are orders for a train.
Fireman Kimball, of extra 410, who was killed in the collision,
and Brnken iin McCarthy, of the same train, were also open to cen-
sure for not making themselves fam.liliar with the contents of train
order No. 104, as they should have done hild they observed the re-
quirements of rule No. 204.
Engineman Brown was employed as such on October 10, 1905, pre-
vious to which he had been an engineman for 6 years on the New


York Central & Hud-on River Railroad. For responisibility in con-
nection with accidents he had been suspended for 30 days on -three
occasions and once for 5 days. He had also been reprim anIded (on)e
for the same c; His last stuspelnion of 30 days was on October
81, 1913, but this suspension was raised on November 13. Flagman
Bronson was employed in 1900 as a brakeman, and on April 2, 1908,
was dismissed for responsibility in connection with an ;ac.idelit. On
June 25, 1908, he was reemployed, his re',nrd since that time being.r
clear with the excel ion of a suslpension of 5 days on December 1,
1911. for roilu-'li switching.
Conductor Holland had been with this railroad since 180. with
the exception of a leave of absence from 1887 to 1889, as brIke,.iinn
and conductor. Brakeman Ml-Carthy had been employed since Jan-
uary 15, 1912; Fireman Kimball since October 18, 1910; and .\gent
Boyce since November 17. 1912. The records of all four of these
employees were clear, while none of the employees involved in this
accident had been employed in violation of any of the provision- of
the hours of service law.
The investigation of this accident developed the fact that the
following employees connected with these two trains had not been
examined on the operating rules: Fireman Johnson, of extra 410,
who had been in service since April 29. 1911; Brakeman M'-Carthy,
of extra 410, who had 1,een employed since January 15, 1912; and
Flagnan Denning, of extra 777, who had been employed since April
1, 1913, about, seven and one-half nionths, and had been fl agging' for
about two weeks. Brakeman Smith, of extra 777, had only been
employed since November 3, 1913. He was given a book of rules
and put to work, no instructions of any kind being given to him. lHe
had not been examined on the rule., neither had his eyesight or
hearing been examined.
From the facts developed in the investigation of this ; n-ident it is
manifest that the members of the crew of extra 410 violated the rules;
that they had done so in the past to a greater or less extent, and that
the officials were more or less cognizant of this fact. There is no
excuse for the negligence in the performance of their duties displayed
by these employee,,. The officials of this railroad, however, are re-
sponsible for their failure properly to enforce rule No. 208 and for
the manner in which other operating rules were often disregarded by
the employees. It can not be considered sufficient merely to call atten-
tion to the fact that rules are not being observed; it is the duty of the
officials to know whether or not the rules are observed, and if they
find that they are ignored in any way whatever, effective measures
looking to a remedying of the dangerous situation thus created
should be taken at once. In this connection attention is called to the
report of the Commission covering the investigation of the accident


which occurred on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad
near North Haven, Conn., on September 2, 1913, wherein it was
stated that:
It is not sufficient for a railr',:id company merely to provide signals and
rules to govern thb operation of trains, to issue bulletins calling attention
to the necessity for observing such sigl;ils and rules, and to interview and
caution employees reg;irding the observance of signals and rules. But it is
an absolute duty of a railroad company to know beyond question whether or
not signals are obeyed and rules are rigidly lived up to. Only when this is
done can a railroad company provide that measure of protection to which
the traveling public is entitled.
In what manner or by what specific authority the use of the middle
order came to be disregarded in cases where first-class trains were not
involved did not definitely appear; it seems to have been one of the
altogether too frequent cases of a rule being disregarded to such an
extent that it became a universal custom, no attention being given
to the matter until a disastrous accident focused attention upon it.
The officials stated that the middle order was used in the case of
first-class tia ins beenause of the greater safety afforded, and it is
pertinent to inquire why its use would not afford equal safety in
the case of other trains. In fact the officials and employees agreed
that had the rule requiring the use of the middle order been fol-
lowed in this case the collision undoubtedly would not have oc-
curred. Previous accident, investigations have developed similar
situations of nonenforcement of rules, for one reason or another, and
in the report covering the investigation of the accident on the New
Haven road, above referred to, it was stated that-
Dereliction of duty by those who are char-'ol with the mnaling and with the
enforcement of safety regulations can not fail to weaken respect for all rules
and to render nuuatir. to a large extent all efforts to maintain effective dis-
cipline. Rules that are not intended to be enforced have no proper place in a
railroad company's code of regulations, and when the operating officers of a
railroad permit rules which have been established to secure safety to be
violated with impunity they can not reasonably expect to escape responsibility
for the consequences of such violations.
This statement applies with full force to the situation developed in
the investigation of this accident.
For the prevention of similar accidents it is recommended that im-
mediate steps be taken by the Central Vermont Railway Company
looking to the proper cl-enrance and enforcement of its operating
Respectfully sllubmitted.
Chief Imipe'tor of Safety Applianr, ,..

ADDITIONAL COPIES of this publication
may be procured from the SUPERINTEND-
XNT or DOCUMENTS, Government Printing
Office, Washington, D. C., at 5 cents per copy

SIllllllll 12 2 0 6 ll 52 III l 1381l1 Il
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