Was it a washout? NTSB releases prelim CSX derailment report

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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NTSB aerial drone photograph showing ballast that has subsided from the outside edge of crossties near where a CSX train derailed on May 19, 2018.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report on the May 19, 2018, derailment of a CSX train near Alexandria, Va.

While a probable cause was not determined, based on the ongoing investigation, NTSB did note the presence of a washout where the ballast was subsided from the track structure along a curve. NTSB investigators found that this fill was subsided for about 26 feet (at a depth of 18 inches) and investigators also identified a flange mark traversing over the top of the rail head in the curve and the at the location of the subsided subgrade.

Rainfall in the area before the accident totaled approximately 5.5 inches over a 10-day period that began May 9, 2018. The area had been under a severe storm warning that expired at 3:00 a.m. on May 19. The derailment occurred at 7:02 a.m. on May 19.

The derailment did not result in any injuries. However, between $5 and $7 million in damage was done. The derailment occurred about 500 feet north of two CSX bridges that cross over Norfolk Southern tracks. A CSX bridge on main track one was extensively damaged; a CSX bridge for main tracks two and three remained in service. Some of the derailed CSX freight cars fouled the NS tracks that were below the bridge.

Categories: Ballast, Ties, Rail, Class 1, ON Track Maintenance, Safety/Training