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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Amtrak Train No. 81 the Silver Star on the Seaboard System Railroad

Executive Summary

About 6:45 p.m., e.d.t., on March 5, 1984, southbound Amtrak train No. 81, The Silver Star, consisting of 3 locomotive units and 18 cars, derailed 1 locomotive unit and 18 cars while traveling at 79 mph on Seaboard System Railroad track near Kittrell, North Carolina. Of the 274 passengers and 19 crewmembers on board, 52 persons were injured in the accident. Damage was estimated to be $2,536,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the overheated No. 1 axle on locomotive unit No. 378. The overheating was due to bearing metal pickup and excessive bearing wear of the pinion end traction motor support bearing because of a substandard finish on the axle journal surface. Contributing to the accident was the lack of an effective system to detect overheated traction motor support bearings before failure. Contributing to the number of injuries was unsecured luggage falling from overhead luggage racks.

Accident Location: Kittrell , NC    
Accident Date: 3/5/1984
Accident ID: DCA84RM005

Date Adopted: 3/5/1985
NTSB Number: RAR-85-03
NTIS Number: PB85-916303

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