NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


April 8, 2004

The following is an update of the NTSB's on-scene investigation into Tuesday's Amtrak derailment near Yazoo City, Mississippi. The City of New Orleans derailed about 6:33 p.m., Tuesday, April 6. As of this morning, there was one fatality as a result of the accident. Below is a summary of the investigative groups' reports from the scene.


Upon arriving at the scene, inspection of the site and documentation of the equipment began. The mechanical group also began gathering historical information on the train and requested information on recent maintenance and repairs.


According to preliminary information from the event recorder, which was downloaded at the scene, the City of New Orleans left at Jackson 6:03 p.m. (there were 61 passengers and 12 crewmembers on board). At 6:33:28, the train was traveling at 78 mph. At 6:33:38, the train brakes went into emergency and at 6:33:48, the train came to a complete stop.

Survival Factors

Investigators began examining the interior and exterior of the cars. Three of the derailed cars were up-righted and examined for survival factors documentation. Interviews with passengers began today.


The operations group gathered Amtrak's operating rulebooks and train orders. In an interview with the engineer today, he reported that when the train was traveling down track, he noticed what appeared to be a misalignment in the track and began the first phase of braking. Additionally, he stated, a few seconds later the right rail appeared to roll away and he immediately put the train in emergency braking. Preliminary review of the event recorder information corresponds with the train handling actions described by the engineer in his statement. Interviews with the conductor and crew are also scheduled for today.

Human Performance

The Safety Board is reviewing the personnel records and employment history of the crew. The Human Performance Group will also review the work/rest cycle of the crew. Toxicology tests were conducted, as normally required following an accident, and results of any physical examinations will be reviewed.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.