Runaway Truck Knocked Tracks Out of Alignment Before Southwest Chief Derailment in Kansas

Investigators are now saying that the truck that damaged the BNSF tracks before the March 14 derailment in Kansas of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief was a runway.

The truck had been parked at nearby feed mill, but its brakes failed and it rolled downhill across U.S. 50 and struck the tracks, knocking them 12 to 14 inches out of alignment.

Amtrak Southwest Chief 2Thirty-two aboard the eastbound Chief were injured when the train left the tracks just after midnight. Seven of the train’s 10 cars derailed, with some flipping over on their sides.

Video from the lead locomotive’s forward-facing camera showed what investigators termed a “localized distortion” in the track.

The engineer of No. 4 applied the emergency brakes shortly before the derailment occurred.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator has said the train was traveling at 60 mph just before the derailment, which is the authorized speed limit for that section of track near Cimarron, Kansas, between Dodge City and Garden City.

The NTSB has determined that the truck that struck the tracks is owned by Cimarron Crossing Feeders, LLC.

The company owns a two-axle 2004 Kenworth truck that matched the tire tracks found at the scene of the derailment.

Investigators believe that either someone failed to set the truck’s parking brakes or a mechanical malfunction caused the truck to begin moving.

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