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Accident Report Detail

Derailment, Norfolk Southern

Executive Summary

About 9:00 a.m., eastern standard time, on January 7, 1996, Norfolk Southern unit grain train Z48V405 derailed 79 of its 98 cars as it proceeded in runaway condition down a descending grade in Ellett, Virginia. The train consisted of a two-unit locomotive consist and 98 covered hopper cars loaded with corn, and was manned by an engineer and a conductor.

The train was 6,030 feet in length and had 12,683 trailing tons. Weather conditions at the time of the accident were heavy overcast skies and snow, with an ambient temperature of 21° F. Additionally, there was a snow accumulation of about 20 inches. There were no reported injuries as a result of this accident. Damages exceeded $2.5 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was insufficient braking capabilities on the 98 loaded grain cars as the train proceeded on the 1.4 percent descending grade under severe weather conditions.

Accident Location: Ellet , VA    
Accident Date: 1/7/1996
Accident ID: ATL96FR007

Date Adopted: 8/18/1998
NTSB Number: RAB-98-04
NTIS Number:  

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