report on the accident.
File Number 2812 Railroad LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE
RAILROAD Date 07/06/1944 Location HIGH CLIFF, TN. Accident Type D.
LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE RAILROAD
HIGH CLIFF, TN.
LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE RAILROAD COMPANY REPORT IN RE ACCIDENT NEAR HIGH
CLIFF, TENN., OF JULY 6, 1944.
Louisville & Nashville
July 6, 1944
High Cliff, Tenn.
45 m. p. h.
Timetable, train orders and automatic block-signal and automatic
Single; 11 degree 15'curve; 0.69 percent ascending grade southward
35 killed; 98 injured
Combination of wide gage of track and excessive speed on sharp curve
THE MATTER OF MAKING ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORTS UNDER THE ACCIDENT REPORTS
ACT OF MAY 6, 1910.
LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE RAILROAD COMPANY
near High Cliff, Tenn., on July 6, 1944, caused by a combination of wide gage
of track and excessive speed on a sharp curve.
OF THE COMMISSION 1
July 6, 1944, there was a derailment of a passenger train on the Louisville
& Nashville Railroad near High Cliff, Tenn., which resulted in the death
of 33 passengers and 2 train-service employees, and the injury of 93
passengers, 3 Pullman employees and 2 train-service employees.
No. 2812 Louisville & Nashville Railroad High Cliff, Tenn. July 6, 1944
of Accident and Method of Operation
accident occurred on that part of the Knoxville and Atlanta Division extending
southward from Corbin, Ky., to Knoxville, Tenn., 104.68 miles. This was a
single-track line over which trains were operated by timetable, train orders
and an automatic block-signal and automatic train-control system. The accident
occurred 31.52 miles south of Corbin, at appoint 0.96 mile south of the
station at High Cliff. From the north there were, in succession, a tangent
1,028 feet in length, a 5 degree 10'curve to the left 763 feet, a tangent 217
feet, a 3 degree 30'curve to the right 541 feet, a tangent 192 feet and a 11
degree 15'curve to the left 235 feet to the point of accident and 351 feet
beyond. The grade for south-bound trains varied between 0.0475 percent and
0.7433 percent ascending 5,575 feet to the point of accident, and was 0.6975
percent ascending at this point.
the curve the track structure consisted of 101.49-pound rail, 39 feet in
length, laid on 22 treated ties to the rail length. It was fully tieplated,
double-spiked outside and single-spiked inside each rail, provided with 4-hole
angle bars, 4 rail anchors and 6 gage rods per rail length, and was ballasted
with slag to a depth of 12 inches. The high rail was rolled in 1943 and was
laid in December, 1943. The low rail was rolled in 1926, was relaid on the
high side of the curve in 1942 and was moved to the low side in December,
1943. Throughout the curve guard rails were located inside the low rail. A
flangeway of 2-1/2 inches was maintained between the guard rail and the
running rail. The maximum superelevation on the curve was 5-1/2 inches and the
gage varied between 4 feet 8-3/8 inches and 4 feet 9-1/8 inches. The
superelevation at the point of derailment
was 5-1/2 inches and the gage was 4 feet 9-1/8 inches.
the vicinity of the point of accident the track was laid on a hillside cut,
and generally paralleled the east bank of Clear Fork River.
signal 202.3, which governed south-bound movements, was 3,972 feet north of
the point of accident.
of the Maintenance of Way Department read in part as follows:
Gage of Curves. -- Curves of less than eleven degrees shall be put to
standard gage. Gage on curves of eleven degrees and over shall be widened as
shown by the following table:
Gage to be Widened
Gage to be Widened
degree and 12 degree
* * *
maximum authorized speed for passenger trains was 35 miles per hour.
47, a south-bound second-class passenger train, consisted of engine 418, a
4-8-2 type, 4 Pullman tourist cars, 1 Pullman kitchen car, 1 Pullman
troop-sleeping car, 2 Pullman tourist cars, 1 baggage car, 3 Pullman
troop-sleeping cars, 1 Pullman kitchen car, 2 Pullman troop-sleeping cars and
1 bag gage car, in the order named. All cars were of steel construction. This
train passed Williamsburg, Ky., 13.11 miles north of High Cliff and the last
open office, at 8:42 p.m., 8 hours 2 minutes late, passed High Cliff, passed
signal 202.3, and while it was moving at an estimated speed of 45 miles per
hour the engine and first eight cars were derailed.
engine and tender stopped on theirs right sides on the river bed 65 feet west
of the track and about 33 feet below the level of the track, with the front
end of the engine 333 feet south of the point of accident. Both were badly
damaged. The first two cars stopped against the engine and were practically
demolished. The third and fourth cars stopped on their sides, on top of the
wreckage of the second car, and were practically demolished. The fifth car
stopped down the embankment and at right angles to the track. The sixth and
seventh cars stopped upright, with the front end of the sixth car on top of
the fifth car and the rear end of the seventh car on the track structure. The
front truck of the eighth car was derailed. Soon after the derailment
occurred, fire broke out and the combustible portion of the first, second,
third, fifth and sixth cars was destroyed.
was clear at the time of the accident, which occurred about 9:05 p.m.
engineer and the fireman were killed. The conductor and the front brakeman
total weight of engine 418 in working order was 337,730 pounds, distributed as
follows: Engine truck, 57,280 pounds; driving wheels, 226,910 pounds; and
trailer truck, 53,540 pounds. The diameters of the engine-truck wheels, the
driving wheels and the trailer-truck wheels were, respectively, 33, 70, and 43
inches. The tender was equipped with four-wheel trucks. The rigid wheelbase of
the engine was 18 feet 3 inches long, and the total length of the engine and
tender was 86 feet 9-5/8 inches. The center of gravity was about 72 inches
above the top of the rails. The engine was equipped with a speed indicator,
but it was inoperative at the time of the accident.
47 was moving on a curve to the left when the engine and the first eight cars
were derailed at a point where the curvature was 11 degree 15'and the
superelevation was 5-1/2 inches. The specified curvature was 10 degree. The
engine overturned to the right and stopped 333 feet beyond the point of
derailment. The maximum authorized speed on the curve was 35 miles per hour.
As the train was approaching the point where the accident occurred the members
of the train crew were in various locations throughout the cars of the train.
The cars had been riding, smoothly, and the first these employees knew of
anything being wrong, was when the brakes became applied in emergency just be
f ore the derailment occurred. The train was moving at a speed of about 45
miles per hour, and there was no service application of the brakes made
immediately prior to the accident. It could not be determined when the
enginemen first became aware of any thing being wrong, as they were killed in
the accident. There was no defective condition of the engine prior to the
accident, and there was no indication of dragging equipment or of any
obstruction having been on the track. The brakes had been tested and had
functioned properly en route. Because of damage to the engine, the position of
the throttle lever, the reverse lever and the brake valves at the time of the
accident could not be determined. There was no condition found that would
prevent the proper application of the train brakes.
of the track disclosed that, beginning at a point 235 feet south of the north
end of the curve, a flange mark appeared on the top of the, head of the guard
rail. This mark began on the flangeway side and extended diagonally through
out a distance of 30 feet to the inner side of the head. At a point 2 feet 9
inches south of the south end of this mark, a flange mark appeared on a spike
at the inner edge of the base of the guard rail, and flange marks continued
southward and diagonally toward the center of the track throughout a distance
of 115 feet, to a point beyond which the track was destroyed. The south end of
the outer rail opposite the north end of the mark on the guard rail was canted
outward. The south end of this rail was 8 feet south of the point of
derailment. The three outer rails immediately south were overturned outwardly,
and flange marks appeared on the inner side of the web. The left front
engine-truck wheel was the first to be derailed. The north end of the flange
mark on the guard rail was the approximate point of derailment.
the speed of the train being approximately 45 miles per hour, which was about
20 miles per hour above equilibrium speed and about 10 miles per hour above
maximum safe speed on the curve, evidently the engine rolled laterally,
crowded the high rail, and the greater part of the force was exerted against
the gage side and the top surface of the head of that rail. At the point of
derailment the gage of the track was 57-1/8 inches, the flangeway between the
low rail and the guard rail was 2-1/2 inches wide, and the high rail was
curve-worn 1/16 inch. The back-to-back measurement of the front engine-truck
wheels was 53-1/4 inches, and-the flange of the right front engine-truck wheel
was 1-5/32 inches thick. Considering all these measurements together with the
crowding of the high rail by the flange of the right front engine-truck wheel,
the back of the flange of the left front engine-truck wheel was 2-25/32 inches
from the gage side of the low rail, or 9/32 inch inside the flangeway side of
the guard rail. Apparently the engine rolled enough for the left front
engine-truck wheel to mount the guard rail, then the flange of the companion
wheel exerted additional pressure against the gage side of the head of the
outer rail, which in turn was canted outward, and following wheels completed
the overturning of the rail.
the engine had not been rolling laterally when it entered the curve, it is
probable the left front engine-truck wheel would not have mounted the guard
rail. However, if the gage and the alinement of the track had been maintained
in accordance with the specifications of the railroad, the curvature would
have been 10 degree instead of 11 degree 15'and the gage would have been 4
feet 8-1/2 inches instead of 4 feet 9-1/8 inches, and the flange of this wheel
would not have mounted the guard rail. Considering the actual curvature at the
point of derailment, the specifications provide for the maintenance of a gage
of only 4 feet 8-3/4 inches on curvature of 11 degree and 12 degree, or 3/8
inch less than the gage in question.
is found that this accident was caused by a combination of wide gage of track
and excessive speed on a sharp curve.
at Washington, D. C., this twenty-second day of August, 1944.
the Commission, Chairman Patterson.
Under authority of section 17 (2) of the Interstate Commerce Act the
above-entitled proceeding was referred by the Commission to Chairman Patterson
for consideration and disposition.
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