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Accident Report Detail

Seaboard System Railroad Freight Train Ferhl Derailment and Fire

Executive Summary

At 9:30 a.m. on April 10, 1984, 18 cars of eastbound Seaboard System Railroad freight train FERHL derailed at Marshville, North Carolina, following the failure of a freight car axle journal as a result of the journal overheating. Two of the four derailed tank cars loaded with methanol, a flammable liquid, were breached during the derailment, and the released methanol was ignited. Three buildings and four automobiles were destroyed by the fire. An estimated 2,100 persons within a 1-mile radius of the accident site were evacuated, U.S. Highway 74 was closed, and the fire was allowed to burn until it subsided at 10 p.m. on the day of the accident. One person received a minor injury during the evacuation. Damage was estimated to be $1,383,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the traincrew to apply correctly information about an overheated journal provided by a freight car inspector and a wayside hotbox detector. Contributing to the accident was the failure of Seaboard System Railroad officials to enforce the company's traincrew monitoring program to ensure that Seaboard crews understood and complied with its operating rules. Contributing to the extent of damage resulting from this accident was the lack of bottom outlet protection on the tank cars containing methanol.

Accident Location: Marshville , NC    
Accident Date: 4/10/1984
Accident ID: DCA84AZ005

Date Adopted: 4/30/1985
NTSB Number: RAR-85-05
NTIS Number: PB85-916305

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