$150,000 plus . . . .

This is a derailment of five loaded grain cars on a lead track of a grain elevator in Ohio.  The date is June 30, 2000. The commodity is corn, the cars are all leased.  The cause was thought to be bad track. The actual cost to clean-up the derailment, repair three cars, scrap two more, salvage the commodity, cut in two access roadways, replace 240 feet of track and give emergency maintenance to another 13,000 feet was over $150,000. The plant owner did not know nor did he understand about the condition of his tracks prior to this time.

This is an overall view of the derailment site.  Three cars have laid on their sides and two more are up-right but off the track.  Do to its remote location, two access roads had to be bulldozed in, one to gain better access to the track and derailment site and another to get the heavy equipment in to handle the commodity clean-up and rerailing of the cars. The cars left the rails at the entry spiral of a curve.  The speed of the train at the time of the derailment was six miles-per-hour.

Looking in the opposite direction, the overturned cars are visible.  Note the track, only every fourth cross-tie was in good enough condition to have survived the dynamics of a slow motion derailment.  These cars weighed approximately 263,000 pounds each as loaded.  For the pressure of the load on the good ties, it was too much to overcome the static resistance of trucks rotating as they entered the curve. A bad joint apparently did not hold and the cars either caused the field rail to roll over or the joint simply failed allowing wheels to drop onto mostly rotted cross-ties. The first car rolled over within an estimated 40 feet of the point where its wheels left the rails. It pulled two more cars over with it.

This is the underside of a derailed covered hopper.  The center-sill or the spine of the car is visible on the center left. The dynamic forces of the derailment were great enough to twist the frames of this car and the car in right of the photo so that they could not reasonably be repaired. The bearings on the axles of all cars were found to be defective as a result of the extreme pressures exerted during the roll-over and all wheel-sets were replaced on the three cars that were repaired. The wheel-set change-out took place on site, requiring a mobile repair crew and a semi-load of wheel-sets.

Looking under the last car in the derailment site, the front wheel-set has derailed and is plowing out defective ties, moving the rail and aiming for a straight line when it stopped.

Note on the left, weeds and brush have grown right up to the edge of the roadbed, it was nearly impossible to get necessary equipment in here to commence salvage operations.  A bulldozer and a tree trimmer had to be brought in just to get the first access road cut in.  The road was about a half-mile long. It was an added expense to the cost of clean-up.

When the cars rolled over the hatch covers blew open from the pressure of the grain, and ran out onto the ground. About 15,000 bushels of corn had to be removed from all five cars before rerailing operations could begin.  That was another expense to the derailment, the use of vacuuming equipment, trucks to haul it back to the elevator and associated cleaning and handling expenses.

Here is the rerailing crew as they prepare to lift the first car and carry back to the point of solid track. Professional rerailing firms are not cheap.  There were two sidewinders, a dozer, six men, a lighting truck, an equipment truck and the associated haulage equipment involved in just getting to the site. Each sidewinder came on two trucks and had to be assembled before clean-up could begin. After getting the cars back onto track they were dismantled before they would meet weight limits on the highways.

Another view as two sidewinders position themselves before lifting one of the up-right cars. From the moment of the derailment until the track was reopened was nine days. A contractor was brought in to handle the replacement of the track. His time on site was three days. Two days was spent vacuuming grain from the overturned cars, one day spent cutting in access roads. One day was spent picking up the cars and one day spent accessing the derailment itself and one day was spent inspecting the tracks to access urgent needs for reconstruction and immediate maintenance to the balance of the track.

Here is a summary breakdown of derailment related costs:

Derailment clean-up $20,000
Replace destroyed track $40,800
Scrap two cars $36,000
Repair of three cars $12,000
Loss of commodity $7,500
Salvage of commodity $4,000
Emergency repair to balance of the track $75,000
Excavation contractor  $5,000




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