Runaway Remote Control Train

Event Year: 2002 Reliability: Likely But Unconfirmed
Country: United States
Industry Type: Transportation

A runaway train plowed through NIPSCO’s Michigan City Generating Station hitting another locomotive before the second locomotive’s engineer narrowly jumped to safety. The train was operating with a remote-controlled system that was less than one year old. The unmanned estbound diesel-electric engine was pushing six coal cars and travelling at about 30 m.p.h. as it approached the coal drop-off area. The train did not respond to the radio controls and smashed through the enclosed thaw shed and coal rotary dumper. The impact sent the second train about 200 feet crashing through a fence and uprooting a bumper post intended to halt runaway trains.  The train also ripped the track’s rails and dislodged the snow blade from the second train. (#1)

A spokesman blamed the crash on a switch malfunction. But the system was supposedly designed so that if the remote-controlled engine receives no signal, its brakes should automatically engage. (#2)


Operations were not affected. (#1)