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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Amtrak Passenger Train No. 21 on the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad

Executive Summary

About 8:37 p.m., c.s.t., on October 30, 1980, two locomotive units and seven of eight cars of southbound Amtrak passenger train No. 21, the Inter-American, derailed while moving through a No. 10 main track turnout on the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad (ICG), at Springfield, Illinois. Of the 96 passengers and 12 train crewmembers on board, 4 passengers and 2 train crewmembers were injured. Both locomotive units and a sleeping car were overturned and incurred extensive damages. Total damage was estimated at $593,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the operation of Amtrak No. 21 into the No. 10 turnout at a speed significantly higher than the turnout's design speed, due to the failure of the train's engineer and fireman to perceive and comprehend that the color-light signal aspects displayed for their train indicated that it was to be routed through the 10-mph (No. 10) turnout. This failure resulted from the routine dispatching of passenger trains to avoid the turnout, the crew's lack of familiarity with the color-light type signal aspects, distraction of the enginemen, and the train speed exceeding the 25-mph restriction between the Springfield passenger station and Iles Tower. Contributing to the accident were ICG's poorly planned modifications to the signal and track systems at Iles and K.C. Junction, ICG's inadequate instruction of Alton District employees on the color-light signals, ICG's and Amtrak's failure to adequately monitor the performance of Alton District employees in passenger service, and the failure of the engineer of Amtrak No. 21 to wear eyeglasses as required.

Accident Location: Springfield , IL    
Accident Date: 10/30/1980
Accident ID: DCA81AR006

Date Adopted: 4/28/1981
NTSB Number: RAR-81-05
NTIS Number: PB81-217366

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