Southwest Chief derailment

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billosborn

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
56
Let the finger-pointing begin... Here is a link to a TV news article. The Chariton County Commission had brought the dangers of this particular crossing to the attention of BNSF and Missouri Department of Transportation repeatedly as early as 2019. It finally made it to some state-sponsored list in February.. of this year.. typical bureaucratic delays.. only this time, it cost 4 people their lives. I am not normally in favor of big time lawsuits, but t I hope the families of the deceased and injured sue both BNSF and MoDOT for megabucks.. just to at least get someone to admit fault and apologize... and get the crossing and others fixed. However, usually they will settle with the victims out of court with sums of money without any admission of guilt on the part of either BNSF or MoDoT.

Just click on the "watch on Youtube" link.
 

Bierboy

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 14, 2008
Messages
568
Location
Fishers, Indiana
If I were a farmer with fields adjacent to that brush obstructing line-of-sight, I would be mightily tempted to take my own brush-cutting equipment and trim it back, regardless of whose responsibility it should be.
Exactly what I was thinking. Shouldn't take more than a half day (at most) depending on how much and how thick the brush is.
 
Joined
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If I were a farmer with fields adjacent to that brush obstructing line-of-sight, I would be mightily tempted to take my own brush-cutting equipment and trim it back, regardless of whose responsibility it should be.
Wife and I were discussing that last evening. Just go cut them down!
In the final analysis, looking at property lines (ROW vs farm fields) will determine potential liability.
 

MccfamschoolMom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
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356
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Dwight, IL
Exactly what I was thinking. Shouldn't take more than a half day (at most) depending on how much and how thick the brush is.
And no cost other than the farmer's labor, since he would already have the brush-cutting equipment, and could do it any day when there wasn't some major time-consuming task on the farm itself.
 

MccfamschoolMom

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Feb 28, 2020
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356
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Dwight, IL
In the final analysis, looking at property lines (ROW vs farm fields) will determine potential liability.
Hopefully, the brush-cutting farmer would already have a sympathetic local attorney he uses for other matters, and some "rainy day" savings to pay the attorney's fee.
 

joelkfla

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Oct 16, 2018
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
And no cost other than the farmer's labor, since he would already have the brush-cutting equipment, and could do it any day when there wasn't some major time-consuming task on the farm itself.
If his equipment damaged any railroad property, BNSF probably wouldn't hesitate to sue him.
 

jis

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Let the finger-pointing begin... Here is a link to a TV news article. The Chariton County Commission had brought the dangers of this particular crossing to the attention of BNSF and Missouri Department of Transportation repeatedly as early as 2019. It finally made it to some state-sponsored list in February.. of this year.. typical bureaucratic delays.. only this time, it cost 4 people their lives. I am not normally in favor of big time lawsuits, but t I hope the families of the deceased and injured sue both BNSF and MoDOT for megabucks.. just to at least get someone to admit fault and apologize... and get the crossing and others fixed. However, usually they will settle with the victims out of court with sums of money without any admission of guilt on the part of either BNSF or MoDoT.

Just click on the "watch on Youtube" link.

Due to the nature of the contract between Amtrak and BNSF, it is Amtrak that will get to pay the big bucks to the next of kin of the deceased. BNSF will get to pay maybe a part of the cost of fixing their infrastructure. Mostly it will be Amtrak's responsibility.

As to whether the crossing gets fixed, that is a separate matter.
 

billosborn

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
56

billosborn

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
56
Let the finger-pointing begin... Here is a link to a TV news article. The Chariton County Commission had brought the dangers of this particular crossing to the attention of BNSF and Missouri Department of Transportation repeatedly as early as 2019. It finally made it to some state-sponsored list in February.. of this year.. typical bureaucratic delays.. only this time, it cost 4 people their lives. I am not normally in favor of big time lawsuits, but t I hope the families of the deceased and injured sue both BNSF and MoDOT for megabucks.. just to at least get someone to admit fault and apologize... and get the crossing and others fixed. However, usually they will settle with the victims out of court with sums of money without any admission of guilt on the part of either BNSF or MoDoT.

Just click on the "watch on Youtube" link.

And the finger-pointing is underway. In this news clip it turns out the BNSF and MoDOT have conflicting stories about the plans to upgrade that particular crossing.. why am I not surprised....this is so easy to predict...

 

fredmcain

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 20, 2017
Messages
196
Location
Northeastern Indiana
The above photo posted by Billosborn should tell everyone all they need to know. There is a STOP sign there for cryin' out loud! All this finger pointing about brush, and no lights or gates, is all a distraction. Did the truck driver really come to a complete stop and look before proceeding? Whatever happened to "Stop, Look and Listen"? There are probably thousands of crossings like this in the U.S. with very lightly traveled and unpaved rural roads. It just wouldn't make sense to put half-barrier gates on all of them.

Let us hypothetically imagine a similar set of circumstances whereby a dump truck loaded with stone approaches a stop sign on a busy highway. Then, after making a "Hollywood" stop, the driver pulls out in front of a speeding Greyhound bus that T-bones the truck resulting in four deaths and numerous passenger injuries. In a such a case like that there would be no question as to who was at fault. So, why do we use a completely different set of guidelines for an intersection with a dirt road, a stopsign, and a railroad crossing.

This is just plain unfair. This is NOT Amtrak's fault nor is it really BNSF's fault. If anyone should be sued, in a just world, it ought to be the company that owned the dump truck. Probably he or they don't have much money, so they go after someone who does. Just ain't right. Not right at all.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
 

crescent-zephyr

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Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
4,182
Let us hypothetically imagine a similar set of circumstances whereby a dump truck loaded with stone approaches a stop sign on a busy highway. Then, after making a "Hollywood" stop, the driver pulls out in front of a speeding Greyhound bus that T-bones the truck resulting in four deaths and numerous passenger injuries. In a such a case like that there would be no question as to who was at fault. So, why do we use a completely different set of guidelines for an intersection with a dirt road, a stopsign, and a railroad crossing.
I’m not aware of such an intersection where the speed limit is 90 mph.
 

fredmcain

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 20, 2017
Messages
196
Location
Northeastern Indiana
The speed limit of 90 shouldn't make that much difference. Many rural U.S. Highways, especially out west, have speed limits of 70 or more. The question is, did the truck driver stop? Based on the photos I've seen, if he'd pulled up right to the tracks, stopped and looked, he very likely would've seen the train coming. He's now dead so the authorities will never be able to obtain his testimony.

I've always wondered if crossings like this that have traffic much too light to warrant gates, should just plain be closed. But, that's another issue, I guess
 

AmtrakBlue

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Delaware
The speed limit of 90 shouldn't make that much difference. Many rural U.S. Highways, especially out west, have speed limits of 70 or more. The question is, did the truck driver stop? Based on the photos I've seen, if he'd pulled up right to the tracks, stopped and looked, he very likely would've seen the train coming. He's now dead so the authorities will never be able to obtain his testimony.

I've always wondered if crossings like this that have traffic much too light to warrant gates, should just plain be closed. But, that's another issue, I guess
We don’t know, yet, if the truck had time to cross and got stuck on the tracks. I believe the train hit the back of the truck.
 

crescent-zephyr

Engineer
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
4,182
The question is, did the truck driver stop? Based on the photos I've seen, if he'd pulled up right to the tracks, stopped and looked, he very likely would've seen the train coming.
Large trucks don’t start quickly and this was a rough road on an incline. Plus the exhaust of the truck.

I think it’s likely he did stop and could not yet see / hear the train and the slow acceleration from the stop and crosssing the tracks meant he probably didn’t hear / see the train until he was already partially across one of the tracks.

If lights are flashing and gates are down it’s very easy to “blame the driver” - but this is not that scenario at all.
 
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LAX
I don't understand why they're suing Amtrak, shouldn't they sue BNSF? How is Amtrak at fault?
Probably don't know who to sue!
I believe that Amtrak pays even if BNSF is found at fault. (something in the contracts and other fine print)
I can't remember the particulars but I read somewhere there is some "advantage' to filing a law suit as early as possible....even before liability is determined. Of course, they sue anybody and everybody connected.
I may have read that in connection with the Montana derailment last year.
 
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MccfamschoolMom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
356
Location
Dwight, IL
Probably don't know who to sue!
I believe that Amtrak pays even if BNSF is found at fault. (something in the contracts and other fine print)
I can't remember the particulars but I read somewhere there is some "advantage' to filing a law suit as early as possible....even before liability is determined. Of course, they sue anybody and everybody connected.
I may have read that in connection with the Montana derailment last year.
I'll have to ask my attorney husband if he's heard of this "ambulance chaser" fellow in Chicago. The next question is what court the attorney is filing suit in. If it's the Missouri state courts, he'd probably want to bring in a Missouri attorney as co-counsel, especially if the Chicago fellow isn't already admitted to the Missouri bar. For a federal lawsuit, he would have to be admitted to the Federal bar in the district he was filing suit in. (F.ex., Chicago is in the Northern District of Illinois.)
 

FunNut

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 13, 2010
Messages
172
Location
Rio Rancho, NM
This incident is an absolute tragedy on all sides. I have property on top of Rowe Mesa, in New Mexico. To get to or from anywhere I have to cross the SWC tracks that intersect NM Hwy 34, at the bottom of the mesa and adjacent to I-25. There are lights and arms at this crossing. Regardless, no matter what time of day or what the weather, I ALWAYS stop, turn off the radio, roll both front windows down, look and LISTEN and WAIT to be sure a train isn't coming. Every single time, without fail.

Numbers 3 and 4 are the only trains (normally) that use those tracks. I don't trust the lights or the arms, hence my extra extra caution. The crossing near Mendon sees many trains every day. I would think local people know this, so they should be MUCH more cautious with unprotected crossings. The truck driver was fairly local and I would surmise that he had been hauling rocks past this crossing several or more times every working day. Perhaps he let his guard down, perhaps the sun was in his eyes, perhaps he had the radio on and didn't roll down his window.

I hope the investigation reveals the real cause of the accident, which also killed three people onboard the train. I hope testimony from the driver of the truck that was behind him can be helpful. My deepest condolences to all involved in this terrible event.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
837
They were able to do inspections at Chicago shop on some cars and get the SWC back to full strength. I wonder if these were true out of service cars that were pending inspections. Either way they got them done in a matter of days.

 
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