About 5:08 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 18, 2002, northbound National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train P052-18, the Auto Train, derailed 21 of 40 cars on CSX Transportation (CSXT) track near Crescent City, Florida. The train derailed in a left-hand curve while traveling about 56 mph. The train was carrying 413 passengers and 33 Amtrak employees. The derailment resulted in 4 fatalities, 36 serious injuries, and 106 minor injuries. The equipment and track costs associated with the accident totaled about $8.3 million.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the April 18, 2002, derailment of Amtrak Auto Train P052-18 near Crescent City, Florida, was a heat-induced track buckle that developed because of inadequate CSX Transportation track-surfacing operations, including misalignment of the curve, insufficient track restraint, and failure to reestablish an appropriate neutral rail temperature.
The safety issues addressed in the report are:
- Continuous welded rail temperature control,
- Continuous welded rail restraint, including ballast and rail anchors,
- Continuous welded rail maintenance procedures and standards,
- Means of end-of-train device activation,
- Amtrak passenger accountability procedures, and
- Securement of folding armchairs on Amtrak Superliner sleeper cars.
Other items discussed in the report include:
- Suitability of the Auto Train consist and
- Crashworthiness of Superliner passenger car windows.
As a result of its investigation of this accident, the Safety Board makes safety recommendations to CSXT, Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Transportation Security Administration.
As a result of its investigation of the April 18, 2002, Crescent City derailment accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:
To CSX Transportation, Inc.:
Require all track maintenance employees, including large system-wide track maintenance team members and local maintenance-of-way crew members, to use a consistent rail anchor standard that includes a requirement that rail anchors be maintained snug against ties. (R-03-06)
Modify your procedures to ensure that when a curve is surfaced, it is also monumented, if local temperatures are predicted to fall below 50° F during the post-surfacing stabilization period. (R-03-07)
Develop a systematic quality control program to ensure that tracksurfacing personnel consistently conduct track-surfacing operations in accordance with CSX Transportation standards. (R-03-08)
To the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak):
Install automatic two-way end-of-train emergency activation devices on all Amtrak locomotives equipped with manual devices. (R-03-09)
Develop and implement an accurate passenger and crew accountability system for all Amtrak long-distance, overnight, and reserved trains that will immediately provide an accurate count of the people on board the train in case of emergency. (R-03-10)
Within 1 year, install restraint systems for the unsecured folding armchairs in all your in-service Superliner sleeper cars. The restraint systems should meet the safety criteria established at 49 Code of Federal Regulations 238.233. (R-03-11)
To the Federal Railroad Administration:
In cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, develop and implement an accurate passenger and crew accountability system for all long-distance, overnight, and reserved passenger trains that will immediately provide an accurate count and identity of the people on board the train in case of emergency at any time during the trip. (R-03-12)
To the Transportation Security Administration:
In cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration, develop and implement an accurate passenger and crew accountability system for all long-distance, overnight, and reserved passenger trains that will immediately provide an accurate count and identity of the people on board the train in case of emergency at any time during the trip. (R-03-13)