Number 90 posted:
Mountain grade railroading is always dicey. On most trips it's uneventful, but, when one little thing goes wrong, you can have coupler failures and derailments going upgrade, or a runaway going downgrade. Going downgrade, you're always about one minute away from having a runaway, if speed unexpectedly begins to increase. Weird things can happen. This train obviously got away from the crew, and, from the look of the terrain, there may not have been a good place to jump off. May God grant them eternal rest.
Well stated. I was involved in the investigation of 2 different runaways, both heavy tonnage unit trains (loaded coal) both in the month of February (2010 and 2013), both in heavy grade territory, 1.5 to 2.57 grades (one on Sand Patch, one on 17 Mile Grade) .....One derailed 108 out of their 130 loads, the other 73 of their 77 loads. In both instances, February weather in the Alleghenies was a key factor. Interesting to note that in both these instances above, the loaded cars rolled out and derailed while traversing curves, while the locomotive consist stayed on the rail as the locomotives have a lower center of gravity. No crew injuries/fatalities involved in either of these incidents.
As Number 90 stated in an earlier post, a detailed report of both crew's activity before, during and after the emergency brake application and crew change would be most informative. Mechanical post accident inspection findings are also going to be critical to discovery of the primary cause.