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Broken axle cause of 2018 train derailment near New Hazelton

The Transportation Safety Board has ruled that a train derailment near New Hazelton last January was due to a broken axle.

The derailment occurred January 19, 2018.

The Transportation Safety Board report states the train experienced a “train-initiated emergency brake application.” The crew then made the required emergency radio call. When the train came to a stop, the crew inspected the train and determined that 27 cars had derailed 

The train consisted of three locomotives and 199 gondola cars loaded with coal. The train was configured with two locomotives at the head end followed by 102 loaded gondola cars, one mid-train locomotive, and 97 loaded gondola cars. 

“The train derailed when the 52nd car sustained a broken axle,” states the report. “In the ensuing derailment sequence, the two cars ahead and 24 cars behind car CNA 194141 also derailed.

“The axle on car CNA 194141 broke as a result of fatigue cracking in the journal fillet radius. Fatigue cracks from multiple origins had merged, forming 2 large fatigue cracks that propagated towards each other. These fatigue cracks met at about the middle of the axle cross-section. When the small remaining axle cross-section could no longer support the load, the axle failed in over stress. The occurrence axle conformed to the specification requirements. Therefore, it is likely that the axle had been subjected to abnormal cyclic loading. There could be several reasons for abnormal cyclic loading, including a wheel tread defect or general out-of-roundness; a displaced, worn, broken, or wrong-size adapter; or uneven loading from truck components due to truck deformation. Because these components, including the wheels, could not be examined, it was not possible to determine the exact case of fatigue cracking in the axle. While fatigue cracks at the journal fillet radius of an axle are known to result from abnormal cyclic loading, the exact cause of the fatigue cracking could not be determined.”




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