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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Amtrak Train No. 5-17 on Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Track

Executive Summary

On March 17, 2001, about 11:40 p.m. central standard time, westbound Amtrak train No. 5-17, the California Zephyr, derailed near Nodaway, Iowa. Amtrak train No. 5-17 consisted of 2 locomotive units and 16 cars. All but the last five cars derailed. No fire or hazardous materials were involved in the accident. The train crew consisted of an engineer and 2 conductors with 13 on-board service personnel. In addition, 241 passengers were on the train. As a result of the derailment, 78 people were injured, including 1 fatal injury.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the derailment of Amtrak train No. 5-17 was the failure of the rail beneath the train, due to undetected internal defects. Contributing to the accident was the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway's lack of a comprehensive method for ensuring that replacement rail is free from internal defects.

Accident Location: Nodaway , IA    
Accident Date: 3/17/2001
Accident ID: DCA01MR003

Date Adopted: 3/5/2002
NTSB Number: RAB-02-01
NTIS Number: