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

Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Amtrak Train 21 on the Union Pacific Railroad

Executive Summary

​About 7:00 p.m., central standard time, on December 20, 1998, National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train No. 21, the Texas Eagle, derailed on Union Pacific Railroad (UP) tracks within the city limits of Arlington, Texas. Train 21 was en route from Chicago, Illinois, to San Antonio, Texas. The train was traveling westbound at a reduced speed of about 36 mph due to reports of rough track near milepost 231. Three locomotives and six cars derailed in a curve at milepost 230.62. Of the 198 passengers and 18 employees on the train, 12 passengers and 10 employees were injured. No fatalities resulted from the accident. Damages were estimated at about $1.4 million.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the December 20, 1998, derailment of Amtrak train No. 21 in Arlington, Texas, was (1) track conditions that were inadequate for the speed of the train, (2) the decision of the dispatcher to delay notifying track department personnel that a train crew had reported encountering rough track, (3) the inadequate effort on the part of the engineer of Amtrak train 22 to contact the dispatcher to report the observed track defect and its location, (4) the failure of the tamper operator to adequately resurface the track 4 days before the accident, (5) inadequate Union Pacific Railroad oversight of track maintenance work on this section of track, and (6) inadequate Union Pacific Railroad requirements for restricting train speed over track with reported rough conditions until track department personnel can assess track condition.

Accident Location: Arlington , TX    
Accident Date: 12/20/1998
Accident ID: DCA99MR001

Date Adopted: 7/24/2001
NTSB Number: RAR-01-02
NTIS Number: PB2001-916202