Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Bookmark and Share this page

Accident Report Detail

Derailment and Hazardous Materials Release, Southern Pacific Lines

Executive Summary

On February 21, 1996 at about 5:55 a.m., mountain standard time, Southern Pacific Lines freight train 1ASRVM-18 derailed 39 cars and 2 locomotives while descending the Tennessee Pass, a 3.0 percent grade in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The train's three-member traincrew consisted of a locomotive engineer, a student locomotive engineer, and a conductor. According to the conductor, the train was being operated by the student engineer. As the train started the mountainous descent it began gaining speed and eventually ran away. The runaway train broke apart three different times, resulting in three separate derailments.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the mismanagement of the air brake system by the student engineer, allowing the speed of the train to increase to the point where the brake system no longer had the ability to stop the train, and the failure of the locomotive engineer to ensure proper train control.

Accident Location: Tennessee Pass , CO    
Accident Date: 2/21/1996
Accident ID: LAX96FR007

Date Adopted: 8/18/1998
NTSB Number: RAB-98-08
NTIS Number:  

Related Report

Related Recommendations

Related Press Releases

Related Events

Related Investigations