Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today released a report on their investigation into the April 17th crash between a coal train and maintenance train in southwest Iowa that claimed the lives of an engineer and a conductor.

The N.T.S.B. says the coal train’s data recorder and forward facing video camera were damaged in the collision and resulting fire. Both recorders were retrieved and are being analyzed at the N.T.S.B.’s lab in Washington, D.C. The video camera was too badly damaged to retrieve data.

A preliminary review of the locomotive recorder’s data indicates just before the collision, the coal train’s speed increased and the throttle was decreased as the train reached the top of a hill west of the accident site. The data also indicates that the speed at impact was 23 mph and that the emergency brakes were not applied before impact.

Official say a signal system designed to warning trains of traffic on the tracks was functioning properly. Signal system data indicate that the last signal encountered by the coal train was set at “restricting,” which would have told the operators of the coal train they should be prepared to stop short of another train.

Visibility was determined not to have been a factor in the crash, which occurred just before seven A.M. Still to reviewed by investigators are the personnel, maintenance and various other records. The crew’s cell phone records have been subpoenaed and will also be examined.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic