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Report: Operator error caused 2015 train derailment by Alma

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Alma train derailment

ALMA — Federal investigators say crew fatigue may have contributed to the derailment of a BNSF freight train that spilled more than 20,000 gallons of ethanol last year in western Wisconsin.

The La Crosse Tribune reports the engineer and the conductor scored poorly on the Federal Railroad Administration’s fatigue analysis tool, even though they each had more than 13 hours of rest prior to beginning their shift at 1 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2015. The derailment occurred nearly 8 hours later.

Both employees passed alcohol and drug screenings.

A report released Tuesday says the engineer violated of railroad guidelines by applying the brakes too suddenly, causing 25 cars to jump the tracks near Alma.

The administration also determined that the layout of the more than 100-car train contributed to the derailment.

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