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Accident Report Detail

Collision and Derailment of Amtrak Train 6 on the Burlington Northern Railroad

Executive Summary

On October 12, 1987, National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) passenger train 6, the California Zephyr, derailed in Russell, Iowa, injuring 15 crewmembers and 107 of the 230 passengers. The train was operating eastbound on the westward track, since the maintenance-of-way department had taken the eastward main track out of service. The train was traveling about 60 mph when it entered into a stub track and struck maintenance-of-way work equipment. Two locomotive units and 11 of the 14 passenger cars derailed, as well as the maintenance-of-way crane and three flat cars.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the track laborer to restore the stub track switch for the mainline track, the failure of the crane operator and track foreman to check the position of the stub track switch, and the failure of the operating management of Burlington Northern to restrict the speed of trains through a work area and to check the condition of the switch banner.

Accident Location: Russell , IA    
Accident Date: 10/12/1987
Accident ID: DCA88MR001

Date Adopted: 7/19/1988
NTSB Number: RAR-88-04
NTIS Number: PB88-916305

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