NTSB releases final report on Missouri Amtrak crash over one year later

Missouri in Mendon, crash train Amtrak deadly a on report final its released has Board Safety Transportation National The — Mo. MENDON,

In June 2022, over 140 individuals were injured and four individuals lost their lives when an Amtrak train collided with a truck dumping at an uncontrolled railroad crossing, derailing eight passenger railcars and locomotives.

People living in the area complained about the years it took to cross. There is only a stop sign and a railroad crossing sign, with no warning bells or lights or crossing arms. Residents said it was difficult to see if a train was coming until it was too late, and they mentioned that the terrain was steep.

The NTSB initiated an investigation the day after the crash, wherein they examined information from the train’s event recorder, survival elements, the railcar’s structure, and the design of the crossing.

The final report by the NTSB, the agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents, determined that Bill Barton, a 54-year-old truck driver, died in a crash. The probable cause of the crash was that Barton proceeded into the crossing without stopping, despite the stop sign and an approaching train, for reasons unknown.

The NTSB stated that the crossing’s design, in addition to “diminishing drivers’ visibility of oncoming trains and posing challenges for large trucks to stop as mandated by Missouri law,” also played a role in the accident.

What occurred?

Based on the conclusive report, the data from the event recorder and interviews have confirmed that the train operator sounded the horn on five occasions prior to the collision.

According to the preliminary report from the NTSB, the train’s determined speed of 89 mph is below the maximum speed allowed of 90 mph at that particular location.

The final report stated that the dump truck crossed over without stopping, reaching the vehicle’s speedometer needle when it was stopped at 5 mph, as examined by the NTSB.

The train’s air brakes were engaged by the engineer, slowing it down to 87 mph, after it derailed and crashed into the dump truck.

Amtrak and BSNF concluded that the collision resulted in $4 million worth of destruction to the train and railway.

When it comes to legal disputes, the issue of responsibility for all the inflicted harm is still under discussion.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed by victims, families of victims, Amtrak, railroad company BNSF and others involved in the ongoing cases related to the train derailment.

A potential experiment may still be years in the future.

Design for crossing

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the road surface adjacent to a crossing must not have a downward slope exceeding 3 inches. The gradient at the Porche Prairie Crossing, as determined by the NTSB, dropped by 39 inches or 10.8% from the rail closest to the crossing.

The organization also observed there are potholes and bumps on the gravel road leading up to the intersection.

The driver from MS Contracting, the company Barton worked for and who was also interviewed by The Missouri State Highway Patrol, described the gravel as causing the trucks to bounce and being “spongey.”

He stated that he did not stop on the sloped grade near the crossing because he had difficulty accelerating afterwards. The NTSB wrote in its report that if he were to stop or slow down on the flat portion, it would help.

According to the NTSB, the trees were not expected to impede visibility within 15 feet of the crossing. After investigation, it was concluded that if the trees halted approximately 50 feet before the crossing, they could potentially obstruct a driver’s line of sight towards an oncoming train. The agency also made a point to mention the presence of three trees in close proximity to the tracks.

Precautionary signals

Over the course of the past year, four lives were lost in Barton and City, Kansas. These individuals include Phan Binh, an 82-year-old from De Soto, as well as Cook Rochelle and Kim Holsapple, who were 57 and 56 years old respectively. It is important to remember and honor their memory.

Nevertheless, a persistent query for numerous individuals is whether those people had to perish or if all of this could have been prevented?

Last month, farmer Mike Spencer informed FOX4 that in the event of an incident occurring in this area, it is likely that our crossing would be forfeited. This is disheartening to me, as I have made efforts to avert accidents from occurring in this vicinity.

And he was correct. The passage is still inaccessible up until now.

Nothing happened. In April 2021, before the crash in Spencer County, stakeholders and engineers attempted to address the problem throughout the entire year.

Now that the crossing is closed, farmers have to drive a distance of 6-and-a-half miles just to perform their job.

They are worried that if an emergency occurs, the already delayed response time, caused by their geographical position, might be extended even more.

According to the NTSB, when the train derailed, passenger cars penetrated the soil and track ballast, resulting in significant damage to the exterior doors and multiple windows.

As per the NTSB, the reason behind the demise of two individuals on board was compression asphyxia, which implies that they were unable to breathe due to the exerted force on their bodies, resulting in their fatalities within the lounge compartment.

The findings of the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that the windows in the lounge car had shattered, allowing a significant amount of gravel and soil to accumulate.

These discoveries resulted in the NTSB issuing the subsequent suggestions to the Federal Railroad Administration.

  • Establish a performance criterion to guarantee that windows remain within the window opening framework in the event of an accident.
  • Research the causes of passenger injuries in derailments and evaluate potential ways to mitigate injuries, such as seat belts or securing projectiles.
  • Utilize the discoveries to establish fresh criteria for passenger rail vehicles in order to avoid accidents.
  • What comes after this?

    Gov. Parson and the Missouri Department of Transportation are preparing to unveil a fresh proposal for enhancing railroad safety crossings in Missouri, which will be announced just a day prior to the release of the NTSB report.

    The governor intends to sign House Bill 4 on Thursday, which includes $50 million in state funding, in order to enhance more than 45 passive railroad crossings.

    Missouri’s passenger trains continue operating on the three rail lines, with the state prioritizing 47 crossings, according to the governor’s office. Parson and MoDOT will also share the findings of an impartial evaluation of these rail lines.

    The broadcast will feature live coverage of Jefferson City, and FOX4 will be present in Jefferson City as well. The enhancements, which have not yet been disclosed, will primarily focus on improvements related to rail crossings. More information regarding these improvements will be provided at a later time.

    MoDOT stated that out of the total number of public rail crossings, only 22 are passive crossings, and less than 500 of them are under the state’s management. As previously mentioned by MoDOT, approximately 50% of these crossings are equipped with lights and/or gates. The state currently oversees more than 3,300 public rail crossings.

    There are also over 2,800 crossings managed by individual communities and counties. MoDOT said about 1,400 of those are considered passive crossings.

    State authorities will also observe a period of quiet reflection for the individuals affected by the 2022 Amtrak collision.