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An update on the investigation into last month's Amtrak derailment near Joplin

Amtrak train derailment along Hi-Line
Posted at 2:53 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 10:28:54-04

HELENA — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released an initial report on the Amtrak derailment that happened a month ago near Joplin, killing three people and injuring 44 others.

Amtrak has estimated damages at $22 million; the cause of the derailment has not yet been determined, but a preliminary report of the September 25 incident notes that the train’s emergency brakes had been activated.

The report states the train was traveling between 75 and 78 miles per hour before the derailment occurred. The maximum allowable speed on this section of track was 79 mph for passenger trains. The weather was clear with no precipitation at the time of the accident.

There were 154 passengers on board when the westbound Empire Builder derailed. Donald Varnadoe, Marjorie Varnadoe, and Zack Schneider lost their lives as a result.

The Amtrak train consisted of two locomotives and 10 railcars. Eight of the 10 railcars derailed with four railcars derailing on their sides.

NTSB investigators have conducted track and equipment inspections, reviewed signal and train control data logs, obtained data from the lead locomotive’s forward-facing image recorder and event recorder, and conducted interviews.

Their investigation continues, and future investigation activities will focus on track and engineering, equipment, survival factors and passenger railcar crashworthiness.

Agencies involved in the investigation include the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, BNSF, the Brotherhood of Maintenance-of-Way Employes Division, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

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