Trial Graphics: Incident Recreation: Amtrak Sunset Minimal

Sunset Minimal
Amtrak/NTSB Investigation

On September 22, 1993, Amtrak’s eastbound Sunset Minimal en route from Los Angeles to Miami, carrying 220 people on board, roared throughout the Major Bayou Canot Bridge in close proximity to Cellular, Alabama and derailed.

A few locomotive models, the baggage and dormitory autos, and two of the six passenger autos were catapulted into the drinking water. It was the worst educate catastrophe in U.S. historical past. The Countrywide Transportation Safety Board was called in to examine and employed forensic engineering and metallurgy to find out the trigger of this accident.

TMBA was asked to recreate numerous animations of the accident scene based on the results of the NTSB.


This wreck happened following a CSX Transportation swing bridge in excess of the Major Bayou Canot in southwestern Alabama (about 10 miles northeast of Cellular) was struck at approximately 2:forty five AM by a barge currently being pushed by the towboat Mauvilla (owned and operated by Warrior and Gulf Navigation of Chickasaw, Alabama), whose pilot had turn out to be disoriented in hefty fog.

The collision compelled the bridge approximately three feet out of alignment and seriously kinked the keep track of.

At approximately 2:53 AM,[one] Amtrak’s Sunset Minimal educate, driven by three locomotives (one particular GE Genesis P40DC number 819 and two EMD F40PHs, figures 262 and 312) en route from Los Angeles, California to Orlando, Florida with 220 passengers and crew aboard, crossed the bridge at substantial pace and derailed at the kink.

The locomotives slammed into the bridge superstructure, triggering its destruction. The lead locomotive embedded itself nose-first into the canal financial institution and the other locomotives, as properly as the baggage car, dormitory car and two of the six passenger autos, plunged into the drinking water.

The locomotives’ gasoline tanks, each individual of which held numerous thousand gallons of diesel gasoline, ruptured upon effects, resulting in a enormous gasoline spill and a fireplace. Forty-7 men and women, 42 of whom were passengers, were killed, lots of by drowning, other folks by fireplace/smoke inhalation. Yet another 103 were injured. The towboat’s 4 crewmembers were not injured.

Straight away prior to the accident, the Mauvilla had manufactured a mistaken turn and entered an un-navigable channel of drinking water. The towboat’s pilot was not properly qualified on how to go through his radar and therefore, owing to the very lousy visibility in the fog and his deficiency of encounter, did not notice that he was off-program.

Even though he was mindful that he had struck a thing when his tow collided with the bridge, his first supposition was that one particular of the barges had basically operate aground. This sort of an assumption would have been unwarranted due to the fairly abrupt nature of a collision with a stationary item.

The bridge span had essentially been made to rotate so it could be transformed to a swing bridge by including ideal products. No this sort of conversion had at any time been carried out, but the span had not been adequately secured against unintended motion.

Irrespective of the displacement of the bridge, the continuously welded rails did not split. As a consequence, the keep track of circuit managing the bridge strategy block signals remained shut (intact) and the closest signal ongoing to show a crystal clear (green) element.

Experienced one particular of the rails been severed by the bridge’s displacement, the keep track of circuit would have opened, triggering the strategy signal to show a end (crimson) element and the previous signal an amber strategy sign.

This may well properly have provided the Amtrak engineer adequate time to end his educate or at minimum lessen pace in an exertion to decrease the severity of the accident.

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