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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Amtrak Train No. 1 While Operating on the Illinois Central Railroad

Executive Summary

Amtrak train No. 1, a southbound passenger train operating on the tracks of the Illinois Central Railroad between Chicago, Illinois, and New Orleans, Louisiana, derailed near Salem, Illinois, on June 10, 1971. Two locomotive units and the first seven cars were turned over on their sides. The derailment resulted in 11 fatalities and 163 injuries.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the displacement of the east stock rail of the southward main track by the false flange on the left-hand wheel on the leading axle of the rear truck of locomotive unit 4031. This wheel slid flat when the traction-motor armature bearings failed and locked the driving wheels. Failure to detect the sliding wheels was caused by an inoperative wheel-slip indicator.

The cause of six of the eleven fatalities was the ejection of passengers through the large side windows which broke when the cars overturned. The other fatalities were caused by passengers being ejected from the end of the car, being struck by a cross tie, and being hurled around the inside of the car. A total of 163 passengers and employees were injured when impacted against injury-producing surfaces inside the cars.

Accident Location: Salem , IL    
Accident Date: 6/10/1971
Accident ID: 79989

Date Adopted: 8/30/1972
NTSB Number: RAR-72-05
NTIS Number: PB-213130

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