Trial Graphics: Accident Recreation: Amtrak Sunset Limited

Sunset Limited
Amtrak/NTSB Investigation

On September 22, 1993, Amtrak’s eastbound Sunset Limited en route from Los Angeles to Miami, carrying 220 persons on board, roared throughout the Massive Bayou Canot Bridge around Mobile, Alabama and derailed.

A few locomotive units, the baggage and dormitory cars, and two of the 6 passenger cars had been catapulted into the h2o. It was the worst coach catastrophe in U.S. background. The Countrywide Transportation Safety Board was called in to investigate and applied forensic engineering and metallurgy to explore the lead to of this incident.

TMBA was questioned to recreate numerous animations of the incident scene centered on the conclusions of the NTSB.


This wreck happened soon after a CSX Transportation swing bridge about the Massive Bayou Canot in southwestern Alabama (about 10 miles northeast of Mobile) was struck at somewhere around two:45 AM by a barge being pushed by the towboat Mauvilla (owned and operated by Warrior and Gulf Navigation of Chickasaw, Alabama), whose pilot experienced grow to be disoriented in weighty fog.

The collision forced the bridge somewhere around 3 toes out of alignment and severely kinked the monitor.

At somewhere around two:fifty three AM,[1] Amtrak’s Sunset Limited coach, run by 3 locomotives (one GE Genesis P40DC range 819 and two EMD F40PHs, numbers 262 and 312) en route from Los Angeles, California to Orlando, Florida with 220 passengers and crew aboard, crossed the bridge at significant speed and derailed at the kink.

The locomotives slammed into the bridge superstructure, leading to its destruction. The lead locomotive embedded itself nose-very first into the canal bank and the other locomotives, as nicely as the baggage car, dormitory car and two of the 6 passenger cars, plunged into the h2o.

The locomotives’ gasoline tanks, just about every of which held numerous thousand gallons of diesel gasoline, ruptured upon effect, ensuing in a significant gasoline spill and a fireplace. Forty-7 people today, forty two of whom had been passengers, had been killed, lots of by drowning, other folks by fireplace/smoke inhalation. One more 103 had been injured. The towboat’s 4 crewmembers had been not injured.

Quickly prior to the incident, the Mauvilla experienced made a mistaken turn and entered an un-navigable channel of h2o. The towboat’s pilot was not appropriately qualified on how to read through his radar and thus, owing to the pretty bad visibility in the fog and his deficiency of knowledge, did not realize that he was off-training course.

Whilst he was informed that he experienced struck one thing when his tow collided with the bridge, his preliminary supposition was that one of the barges experienced simply operate aground. These types of an assumption would have been unwarranted due to the somewhat abrupt mother nature of a collision with a stationary item.

The bridge span experienced basically been created to rotate so it could be converted to a swing bridge by including appropriate equipment. No these conversion experienced ever been performed, but the span experienced not been sufficiently secured towards unintended movement.

Regardless of the displacement of the bridge, the repeatedly welded rails did not split. As a end result, the monitor circuit controlling the bridge strategy block signals remained closed (intact) and the nearest signal continued to screen a crystal clear (green) component.

Experienced one of the rails been severed by the bridge’s displacement, the monitor circuit would have opened, leading to the strategy signal to screen a halt (crimson) component and the preceding signal an amber strategy sign.

This may well nicely have presented the Amtrak engineer enough time to halt his coach or at the very least minimize speed in an energy to minimize the severity of the incident.

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