WASHINGTON (Dec. 10, 2020) — The National Transportation Safety Board issued Rail Accident Report 20/04 Thursday for its investigation of the Aug. 2, 2017, CSX Transportation, Inc. freight train derailment and release of hazardous materials near Hyndman, Pennsylvania.
No injuries were reported in connection with the derailment of 33 of 178 rail cars but three homes were damaged and about 1,000 residents were within the 1-mile radius evacuation zone. CSX estimated damages at $1.8M.
The accident train consisted of five locomotives and 178 cars, 128 of which were loaded, and 50 rail cars were empty.
NTSB investigators determined the probable cause of the derailment was the inappropriate use of hand brakes on empty rail cars to control train speed, and the placement of blocks of empty rail cars at the front of the train consist. Investigators also determined CSX operating practices contributed to the derailment.
Safety issues addressed in the investigation include:
CSX operational practices for building train consists that allowed for excessive longitudinal and lateral forces to be exerted on empty cars
Use of hand brakes to control train movement
Assessment and response to fires involving jacketed rail tank cars
Based on its investigation the NTSB issued a total of six safety recommendations, including one to the Federal Railroad Administration, three to CSX, one to the Association of American Railroads and one to the Security and Emergency Response Training Center. The recommendations seek:
Guidance for railroads to use in developing required risk reduction programs
Revision of rules for building train consists
Prohibiting use of hand brakes on empty rails cars for controlling train movement in grade territory
Incorporation of the lessons learned from this derailment about fire-exposed jacketed pressure tank cars in first responder training programs
Proceeds from the fund will be divided evenly among the men’s families as they recover from their injuries, which include fractures, spinal trauma and facial injuries.
A Local 1566 member who said he didn’t want to be named said he went to visit the accident site and couldn’t believe what he saw.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
Online video footage from a drone posted by WHAM TV Channel 13 out of Rochester N.Y. shows a sinkhole underneath the tracks at the accident site. Local authorities said the cause of the derailment was under investigation.
Members have been pulling together to help the families of both men as they begin the road to recovery from their injuries.
“The families have been astonished by the amount of support,” said the Local 1566 member. “We’ve worked with these people — they’re family.”
On December 18, 2017, at 7:33 a.m., Pacific standard time, southbound Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) passenger train 501, consisting of a leading and trailing locomotive, a power car, 10 passenger railcars and a luggage car, traveling at 78 mph derailed from a highway overpass near DuPont, Washington.
When the train derailed, it was on its first regular passenger service trip on a single main track (Lakewood subdivision) at milepost (MP) 19.86. The lead locomotive, the power car, and two passenger railcars derailed onto Interstate 5. Fourteen highway vehicles came into contact with the derailed equipment.
At the time of the accident, 77 passengers, 5 Amtrak employees, and a Talgo Incorporated technician were on the train. Of these individuals, 3 passengers were killed, and 62 passengers and crewmembers were injured. Eight individuals in highway vehicles were also injured. The damage is estimated to be more than $40.4 million.
At the time of the accident, the temperature was 48˚F, the wind was from the south at 9 mph, and the visibility was 10 miles in light rain.
The authorized track speed north of the accident site is 79 mph and decreases to 30 mph at MP 19.8, prior to a curve. A 30-mph speed sign, was posted 2 miles before the curve on the engineer’s side of the track, to remind the operating crews of the upcoming speed restriction. Furthermore, another 30-mph speed sign was on the wayside at the beginning of the curve on the engineer’s side of the locomotive.
The lead locomotive’s event data and video recorders were successfully downloaded and processed in the NTSB’s Video Recorder laboratory in Washington, D.C. An initial review of the final portion of the accident sequence revealed the following information:
Inward-facing video with audio captured the crew’s actions and their conversations. A forward-facing video with audio captured conditions in front of the locomotive as well as external sounds.
The crew was not observed to use any personal electronic devices during the timeframe reviewed.
About 6 seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition.
The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode.
The recording ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact.
The final recorded speed of the locomotive was 78 mph.
Positive Train Control (PTC), an advanced train control system mandated by Congress in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train through a switch left in the wrong position. If a train does not slow for an upcoming speed restriction, PTC will alert the engineer to slow the train. If an appropriate action is not taken, PTC will apply the train brakes before it violates the speed restriction. In this accident, PTC would have notified the engineer of train 501 about the speed reduction for the curve; if the engineer did not take appropriate action to control the train’s speed, PTC would have applied the train brakes to maintain compliance with the speed restriction and to stop the train.
Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) is a public transit agency in the State of Washington. Sound Transit is the owner of the Point Defiance Bypass tracks. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is the owner of the controlling locomotive, and 11 of the 12 passenger cars. WSDOT contracts with Amtrak to operate the train service. As part of that contract with WSDOT, Amtrak provides the train crews and locomotive maintenance. Sound Transit reported that the PTC system on this line was not operational at the time of the accident. The current Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) deadline for PTC implementation is December 31, 2018.
The 55-year-old engineer had been working for Amtrak since May 2004 and had been promoted to engineer in August 2013. The other crewmember in the cab of the locomotive was a 48-year-old “qualifying” conductor who was being familiarized with the territory. This conductor had been working for Amtrak since June 2010 and had been promoted to conductor in November 2011. As of the date of this report, the NTSB has not yet been able to interview either operating crewmember of the lead locomotive due to their injuries sustained in the accident.
The parties to the investigation include the FRA; Amtrak; Sound Transit; State of Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission; Siemens Industry, Incorporated (manufacturer of the locomotive); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.
The information in this report is preliminary and will be either supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.
CBS reports that high-speed, southbound Amtrak Cascades train 501 derailed on an overpass this morning near DuPont in Washington state. At least one train car crashed down onto Interstate 5 and blocked all lanes of traffic.
Authorities say that injuries and casualties have been reported but no details as to how many have been given. First responders are treating the accident as a mass casualty event.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Two CSX trains collided in Marion County, Fla. in the early hours of Wednesday, Nov. 16, causing approximately 20 train cars to derail. Two members of the train crews were treated for injuries and released without hospitalization. An estimated 15,000 gallons of fuel was spilled.
Federal investigators are placing the blame squarely on Union Pacific Railroad for their lack of track maintenance as the cause of the June 3rd fiery derailment that resulted in a mass evacuation as 42,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the small town of Mosier, Oregon. Read the complete story here.Photo courtesy of Silas Bleakley, KOIN 6 News.
According to The Oregonian, a Union Pacific oil train traveling through the Columbia River Gorge derailed and caught fire Friday afternoon. Although no injuries were reported, local schools evacuated students and nearby state highways were shut down.
The train originated from North Dakota and was carrying the volatile Bakken crude oil to Washington state. Eleven of the 96-car train derailed almost 70 miles east of Portland, near the town of Mosier, Ore.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a board meeting (webcasted live) yesterday, detailing the probable cause of the May 2015 Amtrak train 188 derailment outside of Philadelphia.
The derailment caused eight people to lose their lives and over 200 injuries. The NTSB found that “the probable cause of the accident was the engineer’s acceleration to 106 miles per hour as he entered a curve with a 50 mile per hour speed restriction, due to his loss of situational awareness likely because his attention was diverted to an emergency situation with another train. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a positive train control (PTC) system. Contributing to the severity of the injuries was the inadequate requirements for occupant protection in the event of a train overturning.”
The NTSB also made numerous recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Amtrak, American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Association of American Railroads (AAR), Philadelphia first responders, Philadelphia’s mayor and National first responders organizations based on the accident and their findings.
The NTSB recommended to the FRA that they consider requiring railroads to install procedures where no PTC is present; modify existing regulations to include the number of crewmembers required in the cab of the locomotive and use the data regarding the number of crewmembers in the controlling cab of the train at the time of an accident to evaluate safety adequacy of current crew size regulations; and conduct research to evaluate the causes of passenger injuries and evaluate methods for mitigating those injuries such as the use of seat belts and implement any findings.
The NTSB recommended to Amtrak that they incorporate training strategies for operating crewmembers and new hires to recognize and effectively manage multiple concurrent tasks in prolonged, atypical situations.
Click here to read a summary of the NTSB’s findings.
Click here to read NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart’s opening statement.
Click here to read the presentation given by the NTSB.
On Friday, April 8, Amtrak filed a lawsuit against Cimarron Crossing Feeders, LLC, claiming “gross negligence” as the alleged cause of a derailment last month that left 32 passengers injured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found in their investigation that one of the feed company’s trucks had struck the side of the railroad trucks, shifting the alignment of the tracks. The lawsuit alleges that Cimarron Crossing Feeders failed to notify BNSF, the owner of the tracks, or Amtrak, of the damage. Click here to read more from The Hutchinson News. Click here to read SMART TD’s March 14 report on the derailment.