The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US has released its preliminary investigation report into a fatal incident in Florida on 12 January 2024, including details of a further fatal incident on the same crossing just two days previously. 

Both the trains involved were Brightline passenger services. 

The NTSB said on both occasions the drivers of the vehicles drove around the operational level crossing barriers before being struck by the trains. 

Its report gives details of both incidents at the west side of the intersection of W H Jackson Street and South Harbor City Boulevard in Melbourne, Brevard County, Florida. 

The first incident occurred on 10 January at approximately 2pm local time and involved a Honda SUV. 

“The SUV approached the grade crossing, drove around a vehicle that was stopped at the stop line behind the fully lowered crossing gate, and then drove around the lowered gate, entering the grade crossing,” the NTSB said. 

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By GlobalData

The car, carrying three passengers along with the driver, hit the first car of the northbound train which was travelling at 109kmp/h. The driver was killed and the passengers were all “seriously injured.” 

Two days later, again in the afternoon, a car described by NTSB as a “Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck” approached and then ignored a lowered barrier and sounding alarms. 

The full image released by investigators. Credit: Melbourne Police Department

“The pickup truck drove around the lowered gate and entered the grade crossing. At the same time, the southbound Brightline passenger train #102 was traveling about 78 mph [125kmp/h] on the east main rail, entered the grade crossing, and struck the pickup truck,” the report explained. 

The driver and the passenger in the truck both died. 

“The 12 January crash remains under investigation with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar events,” the NTSB statement added.

“Future investigative activity will focus on factors that address grade crossing safety.”

Brightline and Florida East Coast Railway were named as parties to the ongoing investigation. 

Brightline was contacted for comment.