Trial Graphics: Accident Recreation: Amtrak Sunset Minimal

Sunset Minimal
Amtrak/NTSB Investigation

On September 22, 1993, Amtrak’s eastbound Sunset Minimal en route from Los Angeles to Miami, carrying 220 persons on board, roared throughout the Massive Bayou Canot Bridge in the vicinity of Cellular, Alabama and derailed.

3 locomotive units, the baggage and dormitory automobiles, and two of the six passenger automobiles were catapulted into the drinking water. It was the worst train catastrophe in U.S. history. The Nationwide Transportation Safety Board was known as in to investigate and employed forensic engineering and metallurgy to uncover the induce of this accident.

TMBA was questioned to recreate many animations of the accident scene based on the results of the NTSB.


This wreck transpired after a CSX Transportation swing bridge more than the Massive Bayou Canot in southwestern Alabama (about ten miles northeast of Cellular) was struck at close to two:forty five AM by a barge currently being pushed by the towboat Mauvilla (owned and operated by Warrior and Gulf Navigation of Chickasaw, Alabama), whose pilot experienced develop into disoriented in major fog.

The collision forced the bridge close to a few feet out of alignment and severely kinked the monitor.

At close to two:fifty three AM,[one] Amtrak’s Sunset Minimal train, powered by a few locomotives (a single GE Genesis P40DC number 819 and two EMD F40PHs, quantities 262 and 312) en route from Los Angeles, California to Orlando, Florida with 220 passengers and crew aboard, crossed the bridge at higher velocity and derailed at the kink.

The locomotives slammed into the bridge superstructure, resulting in its destruction. The lead locomotive embedded itself nose-first into the canal bank and the other locomotives, as effectively as the baggage auto, dormitory auto and two of the six passenger automobiles, plunged into the drinking water.

The locomotives’ gas tanks, every of which held many thousand gallons of diesel gas, ruptured on effect, ensuing in a large gas spill and a fireplace. Forty-7 persons, 42 of whom were passengers, were killed, many by drowning, other people by fireplace/smoke inhalation. Another 103 were hurt. The towboat’s four crewmembers were not hurt.

Immediately prior to the accident, the Mauvilla experienced produced a mistaken change and entered an un-navigable channel of drinking water. The towboat’s pilot was not effectively trained on how to read his radar and therefore, owing to the really lousy visibility in the fog and his absence of practical experience, did not understand that he was off-study course.

Though he was informed that he experienced struck something when his tow collided with the bridge, his initial supposition was that a single of the barges experienced basically operate aground. This sort of an assumption would have been unwarranted owing to the reasonably abrupt nature of a collision with a stationary item.

The bridge span experienced basically been developed to rotate so it could be transformed to a swing bridge by incorporating acceptable machines. No these kinds of conversion experienced at any time been carried out, but the span experienced not been adequately secured towards unintended motion.

Even with the displacement of the bridge, the continually welded rails did not split. As a result, the monitor circuit managing the bridge technique block signals remained closed (intact) and the nearest signal ongoing to show a clear (inexperienced) component.

Experienced a single of the rails been severed by the bridge’s displacement, the monitor circuit would have opened, resulting in the technique signal to show a halt (crimson) component and the previous signal an amber technique sign.

This could possibly effectively have presented the Amtrak engineer ample time to halt his train or at minimum cut down velocity in an exertion to decrease the severity of the accident.

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