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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Amtrak Train No. 7 the Empire Builder on Burlington Northern Track

Executive Summary

About 4:00 p.m., on March 14, 1980, westbound Amtrak passenger train No. 7, the Empire Builder, derailed two Locomotive units and eight cars while moving at 37 mph through a 608' curve on the Burlington Northern track at Glacier Park, Montana. Of the 170 passengers and 20 crewmembers, 115 persons were injured; 35 of the injured were hospitalized. Property damage was estimated to be $546,800.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the overturning of the outside rail of a 608' curve because the improperly maintained track could not sustain the lateral force generated by the acceleration of the locomotive in the curve. Contributing to the derailment was the failure of the railroad to issue a temporary slow order pending replacement of several defective rails.

Accident Location: Glacier Park , MT    
Accident Date: 3/14/1980
Accident ID: 79974

Date Adopted: 8/12/1980
NTSB Number: RAR-80-06
NTIS Number: PB81-103376

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