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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Amtrak Train NO. 2 on the CSXT Big Bayou Canot Bridge

Executive Summary

‚ÄčOn September 22, 1993, about 2:45 a.m., barges that were being pushed by the towboat MAUVILLA in dense fog struck and displaced the Big Bayou Canot railroad bridge near Mobile, Alabama. About 2:53 a.m., National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train 2, the Sunset Limited, en route from Los Angeles, California to Miami, Florida, with 220 persons on board, struck the displaced bridge and derailed. The three locomotive units, the baggage and dormitory cars, and two of the six passenger cars fell into the water. The fuel tanks on the locomotive units ruptured, and the locomotive units and the baggage and dormitory cars caught fire. Forty-two passengers and 5 crewmembers were killed; 103 passengers were injured. The towboat's four crewmembers were not injured.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of Amtrak train 2's derailment were the displacement of the Big Bayou Canot railroad bridge when it was struck by the MAUVILLA and tow as a result of the MAUVILLA's pilot becoming lost and disoriented in the dense fog because of (1) the pilot's lack of radar navigation competency; (2) Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company's failure to ensure that its pilot was competent to use radar to navigate his tow during periods of reduced visibility; and (3) the U.S. Coast Guard's failure to establish higher standards for inland towing vessel operator licensing. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a national risk assessment program to determine bridge vulnerability to marine vessel collision.

Accident Location: Mobile , AL    
Accident Date: 9/22/1993
Accident ID: DCA93MR007

Date Adopted: 9/19/1994
NTSB Number: RAR-94-01
NTIS Number: PB94-916301