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Historic Railway Disasters
16 Mar 99



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Chicago: Death toll now 12 in 'City of New Orleans' train crash

The death toll has risen to 12 in a train crash in Illinois involving Amtrak's 'City of New Orleans' and a truck loaded with heavy steel rods.

Photo: WBBM
Overturned locomotive of Amtrak's 'City of New Orleans'

The accident occurred on Monday March 15, 1999 near the town of Bourbonnais around 80km (50 miles) to the south of Chicago. At about 21.40, a semi-trailer truck carrying heavy steel rods from the nearby Birmingham Steel Corporation's mill crossed in the path of the train at a grade crossing. The train consisted of 2 baggage cars and 14 passenger cars headed by two locomotives. It was carrying 196 passengers and 18 crewmembers. The locomotives both overturned and two baggage cars coupled behind the locomotives and a number of passenger carriages were derailed.

Witnesses said that the impact of the crash was heard several miles away. Immediately after the impact fire broke out in one of the engines and quickly spread to the cars behind.

The condition of the truck driver is not known, although the train did not hit the tractor unit
The latest casualty figures indicate that 12 people have died and as many as 120 injured. Eleven of the injured are said to be critical. There are still 6 people not accounted for.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is to mount an investigation into the accident.

amtrak logoAmtrak has been the United State's main rail passenger carrier for 27 years. In that time, it has suffered a number of serious accidents. It's worst accident in recent years was in Silver Spring, Maryland when a commuter train was in collision with the 'Capital Limited' in February 1996. Amtrak's worst-ever accident was on 22 December 1993 at Mobile Alabama when a barge struck a bridge over a bayou dislodging bridge supports. As the 'Sunset Limited' crossed the bridge, it collapsed plunging several cars into the murky water below. Forty-two people were killed.

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At least 8 killed, 120 injured after Amtrak train derails near Chicago
CNN 16/03/99

Birmingham Steel Corporation Issues Statement on Illinois Train Accident
Company Press Release

Vehicles on Tracks a Train Problem

National Transportation Safety Board
Home page

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Images from Boubonnais

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Collision on the Brunswick Line
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