7 pile up

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Active Member
Well 7 managed to make a splash by piling up in Montana. Been all over the news. My first reaction was either a switch failure or a crossover failure. I have seen many trains, both 7 and 8 and CP cross over at Duplainville over the years - it sure looked like that for some of the cars which did not flip over - also - the consist and baggage car and the first Amtrak coach were past the point of derailment. What caught my eye - was the double signal heads. This meant that this was either a diverging route, going from two tracks to one track or one track now expanding in two tracks.

Later investigations and releases said this happened at the later, that is single track going into double track territory. Now why did the lead 5 make it thru and the trailing 5 did not? Perhaps as some said a sun kink caused the problem. Could be, welded rail is prone to severe sun kinks - it would really amplify the kink thru a turn out in this case. Looking further at pictures the consist looks just fine. But it seems there was a series of cars going across the cross over which somehow was not locked -- or perhaps the sun kink prevented the switch from locking?

Your thoughts? This is interesting to follow. Hopefully they got trains running again ..



Well-Known Member
Sounds like a possibility. Unfortunately, the NTSB won't release a final report for a year, which is about standard for them. Obviously, they will check for broken wheels, etc. I have certainly seen model trains "split a switch" when either the frog was picked (Peco turnouts) or something caused the points to separate from the stock rails, or were aligned against the train. But the latter NOT midway through the train. Tragic about the 3 dead and 7 injured.


Well-Known Member
We really don't have enough information to determine a cause on this forum. We have no images of the track or the cars.

I really doubt that a "general" thermal misalignment was the cause. Normally they happen more in the spring, by this time in the year the rail has pretty well settled down. There were some ties stacked near the switches. If there was track work gong on then the track may have been disturbed and that could have triggered a misalignment. The track work could have resulted in some other track problem.

It also could have been a track failure, a part of the switch could have broken under the train.

I really doubt it was a switch that was unlocked or something like that because the signals would have never lined for the movement.

It also wasn't speed because it was reported today that the train was under the required speed.

We also don't know if there was any mechanical defect (broken wheel, broken axle, dragging equipment, etc.)

Right now we only know it wasn't speed.

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