Draffin, Kentucky, derailment scene thermal image.

​Draffin, Kentucky, derailment scene thermal image. (Courtesy of Pike County, Kentucky, Emergency Management Agency.)

Placement of DOT-111 Tank Cars in High Hazard Flammable Trains and the Use of Buffer Cars for the Protection of Train Crews

Investigation Details

What Happened

​​​The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating two separate derailments of high hazard flammable trains (HHFT) in Draffin, Kentucky, and Fort Worth, Texas, which resulted in breached tank cars and hazardous material fires.

What We Found

​The NTSB found that in both derailments, least-protective US Department of Transportation (DOT)-111 tank cars were placed in positions that increased the risk of derailment and breaching of the tank cars, resulting in release of their hazardous materials contents. Additionally, in Draffin, Kentucky, the lead locomotives were separated from the hazardous materials tank cars by only one buffer car, which shortened the distance between the breached tank cars and the crewmembers, increasing the risk of injury or death.​

What We Recommended

We issued one recommendation to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA); reiterating one recommendation to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA); and reiterating two recommendations to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).​