Tuesday, August 22, 2017

NTSB: Crew erred in CSX derailment

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A preliminary report cites human error as the cause of a fiery CSX derailment Aug. 2 that forced the evacuation of Hyndman, Pa.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that after noticing problems with the train’s brakes, the crew of Q388, an 18,000-ton train operating from Chicago to Selkirk, N.Y., stopped on a descending grade and found a leak in the air line near the rear of the 178-car train. Hand brakes were set on 58 cars, and a mechanical service employee was called to fix the leak. When the first crew’s service hours expired, a new crew was called to handle the train.

According to the NTSB, the 58 hand brakes remained set but the second crew believed the train was still encountering air brake problems. A number of hand brakes were released, and the crew switched from train braking to dynamic braking three times on the descent.

As the train was going around a curve, the 35th car, an empty, derailed. Thirty-three more cars left the tracks, including a number of hazmat tank cars, which ignited. The entire town was evacuated for several days until the fires were brought under control.

The report noted that the wheels of several cars showed flat spots and built-up tread from moving while the hand brakes were applied.

The investigation is continuing.

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