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RAILROAD ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION

Report No. 4011

GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY WAYZATA, MINN, MAY 2, 1964
INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION Washington

Photo

No. 27 on westward main track structure at left. Block of 11
freight cars standing on eastward main track includes
(from top to bottom) 27th through 37th cars of Extra
3023 east. Highway bridge construction site shown at top
center. (click on image for larger version)

 

SUMMARY

DATE: May 2, 1964

RAILROAD: Great Northern

LOCATION: Wayzata, Minn.

KIND OF ACCIDENT: Derailment and collision

TRAINS INVOLVED: Freight, Passenger

TRAIN NUMBERS: Extra 3023 East [Freight] 27 [Passenger, The Western Star]

LOCOMOTIVE NUMBERS: Diesel-electric units [Extra 3032] 3023, 3003, 3011, 723 Diesel-electric units [No. 27] 355A, 363B, 353B, 358A, 357C

CONSISTS: 135 cars, caboose [Extra 3032] 26 cars [No. 27]

SPEEDS: Standing [Extra 3032] 65 m.p.h. [No. 27]

OPERATION: Signal indications

TRACKS: Double; 2'04' curve; 0.43 percent descending grade westward

WEATHER: Cloudy

TIME: 9:50 a.m.

CASUALTIES: 65 injured

CAUSE: Broken coupler, and derailed car obstructing adjacent main track in front of an approaching train


map

ICC diagram of derailment. North is to the left.

(Click on image for larger version)

Click below for Google map of accident site

google


 

INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION SAFETY AND SERVICE BOARD NO. 1 RAILROAD ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION Report No. 401 1 GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY May 2, 1964

At 9:50 a.m., May 2, 1964, the 38th car of an eastbound Great Northern Railway freight train derailed near Wayzata, Minn., as a result of a broken coupler. The derailed car stopped across the westward main track and was struck by a westbound passenger train. The locomotive and first 20 cars of the passenger train derailed, and 65 passengers and employees on the train were injured.

 

Location and Method of Operation

The accident occurred on that part of the Willmar Division extending between Lyndale Jct. and Wayzata, Minn., 11.7 miles, a double-track line. Trains moving with the current of traffic operate by signal indications of an automatic block-signal system.

The derailment occurred on the eastward main track 2.6 miles east of Wayzata. The collision occurred a few feet farther eastward.

Automatic signal 20.5, governing westbound movements on the westward main track, is 4,550 feet east of the accident point.

At the time of the accident, a highway bridge was being constructed over the tracks 2,264 feet east of the accident point.

Details of the track structure, operating rules, train equipment, resultant damages, and other factors involved are contained in the appendix.

 

Description and Discussion

Extra 3023 East, an eastbound freight train, consisting of 4 diesel-electric units, 135 cars and a caboose, left Willmar, Minn., 78 miles west of Wayzata, at 7:55 a.m.. It passed Wayzata at 9:45 a.m. and a few minutes later, while moving on the eastward main track at 25 miles per hour, approached the site where the highway bridge was being built over the main tracks. The engineer saw a yellow flag next to the south side of the eastward main track and initiated a service brake application, reducing the speed to 12 miles per hour. Soon afterward, the enginemen and the front brakeman saw No. 27, a westbound-passenger train, closely approaching at high speed on the westward main track.

As the locomotive of Extra 3023 East reached the highway bridge construction site, the train brakes became applied in emergency, apparently as a result of the separation and derailment.

The train stopped with the front end of the 38th car on the structure of the westward main track.

At this time, the locomotive of No. 27 was about to pass the front end of Extra 3023 East. The front brakeman of Extra 3023 East radio-telephoned No. 27 that Extra 3023 East had probably just broken in two. The flagman of Extra 3023 East also called No. 27 and warned the enginemen that Extra 3023 East had experienced a rough stop. A few seconds later No. 27 struck the 38th car of Extra 3023 East, causing the 39th and 40th cars to derail. Derailed equipment of No. 27 then struck and derailed the 19th to 28th cars, inclusive, of Extra 3023 East.

Photo by Bruce Black, Vincent J. Porreca collection - click for larger view

No crew member of Extra 3023 East was injured.

No. 27, consisting of 5 diesel-electric units and 26 cars, left St. Paul, Minn., 12.2 miles east of Lyndale Jct., at 8:50 a.m. and passed Lyndale Jct. at 9:41 a.m., 32 minutes late. About 8 minutes later, while moving on the westward main track at 70 miles per hour, as indicated by the speed-recording tape, it passed signal 20.5, which displayed a Clear aspect. As this train approached the highway construction site, the engineer saw Extra 3023 East stopping on the eastword main track about one-half mile ahead and realized it probably had experienced trouble. A few moments later, he heard a call over the radio-telephone, but could not distinguish what was said, except "27, slow." He increased the volume of the radio-telephone equipment on the locomotive and, as his train was about to pass the locomotive of Extra 3023 East, he heard a warning that this train hadexperienced a rough stop. The engineer of No. 27 then saw the derailed car obstructing the westward main track ahead and promptly applied the brakes in emergency. The speed of No. 27 was reduced to about 65 miles per hour at the time of the collision.

All locomotive units and the first 20 cars of No. 27 were derailed. The engineer, fireman, conductor, 6 railway post office employees, 3 sleeping car employees, 6 dining car employees, 21 train attendants, and 45 passengers were injured.


Click below for Hopkins Herald
newspaper account of the accident

paper

Examination of the eastward main track west of the accident point disclosed no defective track condition. The eastward main track was destroyed throughout a short distance west of the point of derailment. The westward main track was destroyed or heavily damaged between points 200 feet west and 1,400 feet east of the accident.

Examination of the equipment of Extra 3023 East disclosed the swivel-butt coupler at the front, or east, end of the 38th car. had broken off and fallen to the track. The broken coupler bore heavy gouge marks at the center of the coupler head on the guard arm side. The top and bottom swivel shank loops were broken through at the pin holes. The break of the bottom swivel shank loop was a progressive fracture and appeared to have existed for some time. The break of the top loop appeared to be new. Laboratory'analysis disclosed the coupler met the requirements of AAR specification M-204-62 covering type E couplers.

Heavy gouge marks were found on an axle of the front truck of the 38th car of Extra 3023 East. The spring plank of the truck was bent upward and bore heavy gouge marks.

It is apparent that when Extra 3023 East reduced speed in approach to the construction site, the swivel shank loops of the coupler at the front of the 38th car broke and the coupler dropped on the eastward main track, causing a separation arid an emergency application of the train brakes.

The front truck of the 38th car struck the broken coupler and derailed to the north. The truck was displaced and the front end of the car dropped on the westward main track in front of NO. 27, which was closely approaching. When Extra 3023 East stopped as a result of the emergency brake application, there was insufficient time for crew members to provide protection against No. 27. The front brakeman and flagman, however, promptly used the radio-telephone to broadcast a warning.

The enginemen of No. 27 heard these warnings about the same time they first saw the derailed car obstructing the westward track. The engineer initiated an emergency brake application, and the speed of the train was reduced to 65 miles per hour before the collision occurred.

The defective condition of the coupler was located where it could not be readily detected during routine inspection.

Cause This accident was caused by a bioken coupler, and a derailed car obstructing the adjacent main track in front of an approaching train.

 

Dated at Washington, D. C., this twenty-sixth day of October, 1964.
By the Commission, Safety and Service Board No. 1 (SEAL) HAROLD D. McCOY, Secretary.

APPENDIX

Track: From the east on the main tracks there are, in succession, a long tangent, a 2O06' curve to the left 1,347 feet, a tangent 829 feet, a 2%4' curve to the right 778 feet to the accident point and 1,153 feet westward, and a long tangent. The grade for westbound trains is, successively, 0.16 percent ascending 1,200 feet, and 0.43 percent descending 1,300 feet to the accident point and 1,600 feet westward.

The structure of the main tracks consists of 112-pound rail, 39 feet in lenqth, laid new in 1940 on an average of 23 .treated ties to the rail length. It is fully tieplated with double-shoulder tie plates, spiked with 2 rail-holding spikes per tie plate, and has 4-hole 24-inch joint bars and an average of 14 rail anchors per rail. It is ballasted with crushed stone to a depth of 6 inches below the tie bottoms.

Pertinent Operating Rules:

99. When a train stops under circumstances in which it may be overtaken by another train, the flagman must go back immediately with flagman's signals a sufficient distance to insure full protection, placing two torpedoes, and when necessary, in addition displaying lighted fusees.

102. When a train is disabled or stopped suddenly by an emergency application of the air brakes or other causes, a lighted red fusee must be immediately displayed on adjacent tracks at front and rear of train and adjacent tracks that are liable to be obstructed must at once be protected in both directions as prescribed by Rule 99, until it is ascertained they are safe and clear for the movement of trains.

The maximum authorized speeds for freight and passenger trains in the territory involved are 60 and 79 miles per hour, respectively. However, eastbound trains were restricted to 50 miles per hour in the vicinity of the accident.

Train Equipment and Accident Damages: Extra 3023 East consisted of road-switcher type diesel-electric units 3023, 3003, 3011 and 723, coupled in multiple-unit control, 135 cars and a caboose. The brakes had been tested and had functioned properly when used en route. As the train approached the accident point, the enginemen and the front brakeman were in the control compartment of the first diesel-electric unit. The conductor and the flagman were in the caboose.

The 38th car of Extra 3023 East was NYC 76438, an all steel box car, built in 1945. It had a lightweight, nominal capacity, and load limit of 56,000, 100,000 and 113,000 pounds, respectively. Its-outside height, width, and length over strikers were, respectively, 15 feet, 9 feet 10 inches, and 51 feet 9-1/2 inches. The trucks were four-wheel spring plank type with 33-inch one-wear wrought steel wheels, 5-1/2-inch by 10-inch friction journals, cast steel bolsters and side frames with integral journal boxes. The trucks were spaced 40' feet 9-1/2 inches between truck centers. The car had type E swivel butt couplers. At the time of the accident, it was loaded with 98,400 pounds of sheet plywood.

The 38th, 39th, 40th, and 19th to 28th cars, inclusive, were derailed and stopped in various positions on or near the track structure. Of the 13 derailed cars, 1 was destroyed, 8 were heavily damaged, and 4 were slightly damaged.

No. 27, a first-class passenger train, consisted of car-body type diesel-eleetric units 355A, 363B, 353B, 358A and 357C, coupled in multiple-unit control, 1 baggage-express car, 1 express car, 3 mail cars, 1 express car, 2 coaches, 1 lounge-lunch dormitory car, 1 coach; 2 sleeping cars, 6 mail cars, 2 express cars, 2 mail cars, 1 baggage car, 1 express car, 1 mail car and 1 coach, in that order. The brakes had been tested and had functioned properly when used en route. As this train approached the accident point, the engineer and fireman were in the control compartment at the front of the locomotive. The other crew members were at various locations in the cars.

The diesel-electric units and first 20 cars derailed. The train stopped with the front end 200 feet west of the accident point. Separations occurred at both ends of the 5th diesel-electric unit, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th cars, and at each end of the 12th to 18th cars, inclusive. The derailed equipment stopped in various positions on or near the track structure as shown in the photograph at the front of this report.

All diesel-electric units of No. 27 were heavily damaged. The first 4 cars and the 13th car were destroyed. The 5th to 12th cars and the 14th to 19th cars, inclusive, were heavily damaged, and the 20th car was slightly damaged.


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