Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-83-103
Details
Synopsis: ON APRIL 3, 1983, AMTRAK PASSENGER TRAIN NO. 820 (THE CRESCENT), EN ROUTE FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., WITH 331 PASSENGERS AND 18 CREWMEMBERS ABOARD, DERAILED WHEN IT STRUCK A LANDSLIDE NEAR ROCKFISH, VIRGINIA, ON SOUTHERN RAILWAY SYSTEM (SR) TRACK ABOUT 23 MILES SOUTH OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA. HEAVY RAINS IN THE AREA PRECEDED THE LANDSLIDE. THE TRACK HAD BEEN INSPECTED 6 HOURS BEFORE THE ACCIDENT. THE TRAIN WAS MOVING ABOUT 48 MPH AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT. THERE WAS NO TRAIN ORDER IN EFFECT FOR REDUCED SPEED IN THE AREA OF THE DERAILMENT. TWENTY-FOUR PERSONS WERE INJURED, AND DAMAGE WAS ESTIMATED TO BE $232,000.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE SOUTHERN RAILWAY SYSTEM: REVISE PROCEDURES FOR TRAIN ORDERS RELATED TO WEATHER CONDITIONS TO PRESCRIBE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH THE TRAIN ORDERS SHOULD BE ISSUED, AND SPECIFIC ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN BY CREWMEMBERS SO THAT THE RISK OF OPERATING HAZARDS CAUSED BY WEATHER WILL BE MINIMIZED.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Rockfish, VA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA83AR005
Accident Reports: Derailment of Amtrak Train No. 820 (The Crescent) of Southern Railway System Track
Report #: RAR-83-10
Accident Date: 4/3/1983
Issue Date: 1/4/1984
Date Closed: 3/13/1985
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Southern Railway System (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Southern Railway System
Date: 3/13/1985
Response: The Board notes that on June 6, 1984, the assistant vice president of transportation for Southern Railway distributed instructions to division superintendents which revised the procedure for issuing train orders related to weather conditions. This new procedure, which requires that the content of the train order include the maximum speed over the affected area of track, is responsive to the intent of the recommendation. Based on this positive action, Safety Recommendation R-83-103 has been placed in a "Closed-Acceptable Action" status.

From: Southern Railway System
To: NTSB
Date: 11/20/1984
Response: SOUTHERN RAILWAY LTR: WITH RESPECT TO THE FIRST RECOMMEN DATION, ON JUNE 6, 1984, ASST. VICE PRESIDENT - TRANSPOR TATION, H.H. BRADLEY, ISSUED THE ATTACHED INSTRUCTIONS DATED 6/6/84. WE BELIEVE THAT THESE INSTRUCTIONS COMPLY WITH THE FIRST RECOMMENDATION OF THE BOARD.

From: NTSB
To: Southern Railway System
Date: 11/16/1984
Response: On January 4, 1984, the National Transportation Safety Board issued Safety Recommendations R-83-103 through -105 to the Southern Railway System. These recommendations were issued as a result of the Board's investigation of the derailment of an Amtrak train on Southern Railway System track near Rockfish, Virginia, on April 3, 1983. The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent Federal Agency with the statutory responsibility "…to promote transportation safety by conducting independent accident investigations and by formulating safety improvement recommendations" (Public Law 93-633). The Safety Board is vitally interested in any actions taken as a result of its safety recommendations. Our records show that we have not received any indication of action taken by the Southern Railway System regarding the recommended actions. We would appreciate being informed as to what efforts are being made to implement these recommendations. The Safety Board's letter including these recommendations is enclosed for your information.