Broken Rail Blamed in 2012 Ohio Train Derailment

September 23, 2014

A broken rail was cited as the “probable cause” of a 2012 train derailment and explosion that damaged a bus depot and led to home evacuations in Ohio’s capital, according to federal investigators.

The report adopted this week by the National Transportation Safety Board said: “The probable cause of the accident was a broken rail that exhibited evidence of rolling contact fatigue.”

Two people were injured and about 100 residents were told to evacuate when the Norfolk Southern train slipped the rails north of downtown Columbus around 2 a.m. on July 11, 2012, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The train was carrying ethanol, corn syrup and grain, and one of the 17 cars that derailed punctured and spilled ethanol that fueled a huge fire. Two other cars holding ethanol went up in flames and exploded, according to the report.

The report estimated damage totaling $1.2 million.

A spokesman for the safety board says the agency’s investigation was to determine the cause of the accident and how safety on the tracks could be improved. An investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration will determine fault.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based railroad had nothing to add to the NTSB report, Norfolk Southern Corp. spokesman Dave Pidgeon said in an email Friday.

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