Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-75-001
Details
Synopsis: AT 4:57 A.M. ON JULY 5, 1974, AMTRAK TRAIN NO. 4-C WAS OPERATI THE TRACKS OF THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA, AND SANTA FE RAILWAY COMPANY JUST EAST OF MELVERN, KANSAS. AS THE TRAIN MOVED OVER A TURNOUT LEADING FROM THE SOUTH MAIN TRACK TO A SIDING LOCATED BETWEEN THE TWO MAIN TRACKS, THE REAR 13 CARS OF THE 18-CAR TRAIN DERAILED. THE REAR SIX CARS TURNED OVER, SLID DOWN AN EMBANKMENT, AND CAME TO A STOP ON THEIR SIDES. FIFTEEN EMPLOYEES AND 87 PASSENGERS WERE INJURED AS A RESULT OF THE ACCIDENT. ONE OF THE INJURED PASSENGERS DIED SEVERAL WEEKS LATER. THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD DETERMINES THAT THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT WAS THE BROKEN CLOSURE RAIL OF THE TURNOUT LEADING FROM THE SOUTH MAIN TRACK TO THESIDING. THE INSUFFICIENT STRENGTH OF THE TRACK BOLT AND THE APPARENTSTRESSED CONDITION OF THE RAIL CONTRIBUTED TO THE CAUSE OF THE BROKEN RAIL.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: DEVELOP, TOGETHER WITH THE RAILROADD INDUSTRY, A TURNOUT THAT WILL ELIMINATE AS MANY BOLTED TRACK JOINTS AS POSSIBLE FOR USE IN WELDED TRACK TERRITORY AND DEVELOP A RAIL CONNECTION THAT WILL ELIMINATE STRESSES WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO RAIL FAILURES OR SEPARATIONS AT THE JOINT.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Melvern, KS, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79997
Accident Reports: Derailment of an Amtrak Train on the Tracks of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company
Report #: RAR-75-01
Accident Date: 7/5/1974
Issue Date: 2/5/1975
Date Closed: 2/2/1978
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 8/20/1975
Response: This recommendation was in two parts, namely: (1) FRA, together with the railroad industry, develop a turnout that will eliminate as many bolted track joints as possible; and, (2) FRA develop a rail connection that will eliminate stresses which contribute to rail failures or separations at the joint. FRA's response to the first part of our recommendation indicates what the railroad industry is doing in regard to developing a joint-free turnout but it does not indicate whether FRA regards this as acceptable and ready for the general utilization that an FRA development would provide. Your reply suggests that the rail-welding practices of the Santa Fe, the Southern Pacific, and the Penn Central are acceptable and desirable. Is FRA promoting requiring such practices for use on other railroads? Are they acceptable for follow-on programs as would be expected if an FRA development? FRA's reply to the second part of Recommendation R-75-1 suggests that your ongoing programs are extensive and responsive. We would appreciate being advised of the scope and schedule of these programs.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/9/1975
Response: FRA RESPONDS THAT ATSF, SP, AND PC WELD JOINTS IN TURNOUTS, FR RECOGNIZES IMPORTANCE OF RAIL-JOINT FAILURES AND IS PROGRESSING A NUMBER OF PROJECTS IN THIS AREA; BELIEVES THAT PRESENT EFFORTS PRECLUDE THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL NEW ACTIVITY AT THIS TIME. AUGUST 20, 1975 NTSB REQUESTED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON SCOPE AND SCHEDULE OF PROGRAM. OCTOBER 17, 1975 FRA PROMISES REPLY WHEN REVIEWIS COMPLETE. APRIL 28, 1976 FRA ADVISES THAT THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY HAS DEVELOPED A TURNOUT CONSTRUCTED OF WELDED RAILS. THE WELDED JOINT TURNOUT AS WELL AS THE BOLTED JOINT BOTH COMPLY WITH THE FEDERAL TRACK STANDARDS.