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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-75-004
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 AMTRAK: INSTALL WINDOWS IN PASSENGER-CARRYING RAILCARS THAT CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE OUTSIDE OF CARS, AND INSTRUCT APPROPRIATE RAILROAD AND EMERGENCY RESCUE PERSONNEL ON THE REMOVAL OF THE WINDOWS.
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: 7/1/1986
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
To: NTSB
Date: 7/1/1986
Response: THIS IS ACTUALLY A FOLLOWUP LETTER DATED 7/1/86 AND THE FOLLOWING IS A HISTORY OF PREVIOUS CORRESPONDENCE: AMTRAK'S INITIAL RESPONSE OF 5/6/76; NTSB'S FOLLOWUP LETTER OF 6/28/76; AMTRAK'S FURTHER RESPONSE OF 7/21/76; AND NTSB'S LETTER OF 11/4/77.

From: NTSB
To: Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
Date: 7/1/1986
Response: In our November 4, 1977, letter to Amtrak, the Safety Board noted Amtrak's plans to order new equipment which would contain emergency escape windows and to modify windows on present equipment. In that letter, we expressed concern, however, about the apparent time lag of 5 years before Amtrak was to complete the escape window modification of the Amtrak fleet. Although the Safety Board never received a response to its November 4, 1977 letter, the Board is aware that the escape window modification has been completed. The Board is also aware that in addition to posting instructions for the removal of these windows on the outside of cars, Amtrak has also conducted orientation programs for operating personnel as well as some local emergency response personnel on emergency procedures and equipment. While the Board will continue to follow up on Amtrak's efforts in this area in connection with Safety Recommendation R-83-72, issued as a result of the Gibson, California accident on June 23, 1982, the Board believes that Amtrak has addressed the intent of Safety Recommendation R-75-04 which, consequently, has been placed in a "Closed-Acceptable Action" status.

From: NTSB
To: Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
Date: 11/4/1977
Response: On July 21, 1976, the Safety Board was informed of Amtrak's plans to order new equipment which would contain emergency escape windows and to modify windows on present equipment, notable turbine train sets and metroliners. Amtrak also advised that older passenger cars were to be retired over a five-year phaseout schedule and when such schedule was complete, certain of the older cars would be retained for emergency service. The cars slated for retention would then be equipped with the emergency escape windows. The Safety Board is very concerned about the apparent time lag of five years before Amtrak completes the escape window modification of the Amtrak fleet. There have been many accidents where emergency aid and rescue operations have been severely handicapped due to the problem of window removal. Please advise if our understanding of this situation is correct. A copy of the July 21, 1976, response from Amtrak is enclosed for your convenience.

From: Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
To: NTSB
Date: 5/6/1976
Response: AMTRAK LTR: ALL OF THE METROLINERS, THE AMFLEET CARS AND BILEVEL CARS HAVE WINDOW SASH DESIGNED FOR EASY REMOVAL FROM THE OUTSIDE BY MERELY "UNZIPPING" THE RUBBER GLAZING FILLER STRIP. 7/21/76 - AMTRAK LTR: AMTRAK ADVISES THAT THEY ARE ORDERING 492 AMFLEET CARS, 235 BILEVEL CARS, 13 TURBINE TRAINS WHICH WILL BE USED TO REPLACE EXISTING EQUIPMENT WILL BE PROVIDED WITH THE LATEST CRASHWORTHINESS FEATURES. AMTRAK IS FORMULATING A RETIREMENT SCHEDULE FOR OLDER PASSENGER CARS TO EXTEND OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS. SOME OF THE OLDER CARS WILL BE RETAINED FOR EMERGENCY STANDBY SERVICE TO TAKE CARE OF PEAK PERIODS OF TRAVEL. WHEN THE RETIREMENT SCHEDULE IS COMPLETED, THE CARS SELECTED FOR RETENTION WILL BE EQUIPPED WITH EMERGENCY ESCAPE WINDOWS. 12/15/77 - AMTRAK LTR: WE HAVE RECENTLY IDENTIFIED CERTAIN SERIES OF CARS FOR CONVERSION TO ALL ELECTRIC OPERATION. THESE WILL BE THE BASIS OF OUR FLEET OF CONVENTIONAL CARS TO BE RETAINED FOR POSSIBLY THE NEXT TEN YEARS. AS THESE CARS GO THROUGH HEAVY OVERHAUL AND CONVERSION, THEY WILL BE FITTED WITH THE EMERGENCY WINDOWS. THIS PROGRAM IS SCHEDULED TO START IN FEBRUARY, 1978. WE ALSO HAVE IDENTIFIED A GROUP OF ALL STAINLESS STEEL CARS WHICH ARE MARKED FOR RETENTION IN "AS-IN" CONFIGURATION. THESE CARS WILL ALSO BE FITTED WITH EMERGENCY ESCAPE WINDOWS AS THEY UNDERGO OVERHAUL. CARS WILL ENTER THE PROGRAM IN MARCH, 1978. THESE TWO PROGRAMS WILL RESULT IN APPROXIMATELY 250 CARS PER YEAR BEING EQUIPPED WITH THE ESCAPE WINDOW MODIFICATION. WE THEREFORE ANTICIPATE THAT THE CONVERSION PROGRAM WILL BE COMPLETED BY THE FIRST QUARTER OF 1980.