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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Blue Train

Executive Summary

On January 13, 1994, a northbound Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train derailed about 9.08 a.m., eastern standard time, while passing through Lakeland, Florida, on CSX Transportation railroad en route to Orlando, Florida A witness observed the train go by and saw two pieces of a wheel fly off a passenger car and land in nearby woods. The train continued 2.7 miles, across five grade crossings, with the broken wheel. When it reached the Park Spur turnout, 15 other passenger cars and 3 freight cars derailed. Of the 16 derailed passenger cars, 5 turned on their sides, the rest remained upright. Two circus employees were killed, and 15 received minor injuries.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the derailment of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus blue train was the fatigue failure of a thermally damaged wheel due to fatigue cracking that initiated at a stress raiser associated with a stamped character on the wheel rim.

Accident Location: Lakeland , FL    
Accident Date: 1/13/1994
Accident ID: DCA94MR003

Date Adopted: 2/14/1995
NTSB Number: RAR-95-01
NTIS Number: PB95-916301

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