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Train Derailment Preliminary Report Released

Little new information is revealed in this first account of the accident.

The train that derailed in Ellicott City on Aug. 20 was traveling the speed limit on a calm, mild evening, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). 

Besides suggesting weather and speed were not causes for the derailment, there is not much new information in the report, released Wednesday morning. It does not specify any potential causes for the derailment and it may still be revised as the investigation continues. 

Read full coverage of the Ellicott City train derailment

But the NTSB report does create a somewhat more complete picture of what happened on that night, when a f, killing two 19-year-old women.

The report is the result of NTSB reviews of track maintenance records, rail samples and railroad equipment. 

According to the report, at about 11:56 p.m., an 80-car CSX train carrying coal was traveling eastbound on the Old Main Line Subdivision. 

According to the event recorder, the train was traveling 25 mph in a 25 mph zone when the first 21 cars derailed at milepost 12.9 on the CSX Old Main Line Subdivision, just at the west-bound edge of the Main Street Bridge. 

Six of those cars – and their coal --  fell off the tracks, about 15 feet down into parking lot B, according to the report. Other cars overturned as well, and spilled coal along the tracks. 

“Two people that were sitting on the north side of the railroad bridge at the time of the derailment sustained fatal injuries,” the report read. “No other injuries were reported and there was no evacuation.”

Killed in the derailment were 19-year-olds , both of Ellicott City.

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dj September 05, 2012 at 07:32 PM
I heard there was a student conductor driving the train. Is that correct?
Brandie Jefferson September 05, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Yes, DJ, it was an "engineer in training" at the helm, according to a CSX spokesman.
dj September 05, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Is there a reason that was not reported in any articles I've seen thus far?
mk September 05, 2012 at 08:11 PM
That is correct there was a trainee operating the train, and there was an experienced engineer and one other crew member (I forget what type) onboard as well. That said, the operator doesn't appear to be a factor in the crash. The recorder shows they were traveling steady at the proper speed when the derailment occured. Other NTSB statements elsewhere indicate the recorder also shows operator did not apply the brakes, rather they triggered automatically (exact cause unknown, but either brake line damage or derailment will trigger them). In an interview, all 3 onboard staff claimed to have not noticed anything unusual prior to the derailment, and the train automatically stopped itself afterward. Since a train operator doesn't have any steering controls, just throttle/brake, those recorder records at least show he wasn't doing anything stupid (speeding, braking hard, etc) at the time of the crash. Could he have missed seeing some track damage that another engineer may have noticed? Maybe, but it probably would not have mattered if he had seen it. The safe stopping distance for a train is much further than the engineer can see small problems at (around 1/3 to 1/2 mile at these speeds, and over a mile at 55 mph. Trains are not like cars.).
Brandie Jefferson September 05, 2012 at 08:14 PM
It was in this article, dj: http://patch.com/A-xjY4
dj September 05, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Is there a reason this has not been reported previously?
dj September 05, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Sorry -- missed that previous report. Thank you.
Brandie Jefferson September 05, 2012 at 08:22 PM
No problem. There are a lot of details here. And many more to come, I'm sure.
mk September 05, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I don't know why you didn't know about that. Baltimore sun reported on it on August 22nd. Several other news outlets covered the same fact at around the same timeframe. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-08-22/news/bs-md-ntsb-probe-20120822_1_train-derailment-air-brake-ntsb
BP September 06, 2012 at 01:33 AM
The NTSB has no ideal on real speed since killer railroads are allowed to take the recorder away to be tampered with B-4 the NTSB gets there. When is the media going to start the real questions like why the victims weren't swept off the bridge ledge like being hit with a tidal wave ---how the victims were found when nobody knew about them --- How they apparently had to drown in a few inches of coal ---How CSX justfies the CEOs $27 million a year salary????? Or does the public have to read the NTSB garbage that has been smeared in their faces for decades?
Toby September 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
You just know those parents are going to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If they haven't already.
CN September 07, 2012 at 02:17 PM
They were tresspassing on private property. I don't see how the parents can win that case.
BP September 09, 2012 at 08:28 AM
http://www.actionnewsjax.com/mostpopular/story/CSX-to-pay-family-of-teen-killed-by-train-1-6/i2yUVkd6QU6tpnDm55luFg.cspx CSX to pay family of teen killed by train $1.6 million, mother mourns loss

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