Tuxtla Martínez train disaster

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Tuxtla Martínez train disaster
Train disaster on Duffy Street.jpg
A destroyed house covered in spilled sugar.
Details
Date15 November 2007; 13 years ago (2007-11-15)
7:36 a.m. (SST)
LocationTuxtla Martínez, Zapatista, Creeperopolis
LineTuxtla Martínez Line at Cajon Pass
OperatorUnión Pacífico
Incident typeRunaway train and derailment
CauseTrain weight miscalculated and several locomotives with inoperative dynamic brakes. Pressure and bribes from CORNACA on UP to skip safety checks.
Statistics
Trains1 (UP 2522 South)
Vehicles7 locomotives
Crew6
Deaths12 (3 on the train, 9 in houses)
Injured15 (3 on the train, 12 in houses)
Damage₡240 million colóns[note 1]

The Tuxtla Martínez train disaster (Creeperian SpanishIberic: Disastre de tren de Tuxtla Martínez) occurred on 15 November 2007 in Tuxtla Martínez, Zapatista, Creeperopolis, when a runaway Unión Pacífico freight train carrying coffee and sugar derailed and crashed into a neighborhood, killing twelve people, injured fifteen more, and caused ₡240 million colóns[note 1] in property damage.

After an investigation conducted by the Ministry of Transportation, it was concluded that executives at the National Coffee and Sugar Corporation had been pressuring and bribing Unión Pacífico management and operators to disregard various safety procedures and make longer and longer trains to make the transporting of their products quicker and more efficient. Several executives of both the National Coffee and Sugar Corporation and Unión Pacífico were charged with various corruption charges, however, several of those accused had all charges dropped against them, which has been denounced as "blatant corruption" on the part of the Creeperian National Military Tribunal.

The derailment is the worst accident involving a freight train in Unión Pacífico's history and in Tuxtla Martínez. It was also the deadliest train disaster in Creeperopolis since the 1999 San Salvador train disaster which killed fifty-nine people.

Derailment

On 15 November 2007, at 7:36 a.m. a 7-locomotive/122-car Unión Pacífico freight train (UP 2522) that was transporting sugar for the National Coffee and Sugar Corporation lost control while descending Cajon Pass and derailed on an elevated curve, plowing into a residential area by the railroad tracks.

Twelve people were killed with fifteen more being injured. Fifteen houses on the street immediately next to the tracks were demolished by the wreck, as were the lead locomotives and all of the freight cars. Rail yard workers in San Salvador had miscalculated the weight of the train after 61 additional cars were added, while the engineer and crew at the head end were unaware that one of the rear helper engines had inoperative dynamic brakes. Hence there was not enough dynamic braking force available to maintain control of train speed during the descent. When the helper engineer realized that the train speed was not being adequately controlled, he made an emergency brake application, which deactivated dynamic braking, resulting in a runaway condition. The train reached a speed of about 110 mph before derailing on an elevated 35 mph curve sending the head end locomotives and several cars off the high railroad bed and into houses on the street below, completely demolishing them.

Cause

After an investigation by the Imperial Transportation Safety Administration (AIST), it was discovered that the National Coffee and Sugar Corporation faced heavy demand for sugar for products across the country. CORNACA turned to the Unión Pacífico, its primary coffee and sugar transporter, to speed up the delivery of sugar and to make its deliveries larger in size. The railroad was pressured and bribed into taking less time to inspect their trains and conduct safety tests, and to make their trains run faster, run more often, and pull heavier and larger loads by CORNACA.

On the day of the derailment, two separate deliveries were merged into one on demand of CORNACA. Consequently, the weight of the larger train was not calculated and not enough locomotives were assigned to UP 2522 to descend down Cajon Pass. Of the seven locomotives, four of them had faulty or non-operational brakes due to less frequent maintenance. The faults were never detected as no safety or brake tests have been preformed in two years due to CORNACA's pressure and bribes.

When the train began to roll down the grade and the brakes were applied, the fact that the brakes were faulty was discovered.

Aftermath

After the disaster, all five lead locomotives and all freight cars were deemed total losses and scrapped on site. The two end locomotives were repaired and reentered service in late 2008. Of the fifteen destroyed houses, six were rebuilt. In place of the other nine is a memorial dedicated to those who died.

The CEOs of CORNACA and UP were both put on trial for several charges but they were both acquitted.

Train

Train crew

The crew of UP 2522 were:

  • Román Adolfo Manzanedo Zorita, Engineer of 2522 (aged 37) †
  • Martín Gustavo Leoz Pozo, Conductor of 2522 (aged 41) †
  • Serafín José Mancebo Velázquez, Brakeman of 2621 (aged 35) †
  • Nicolás Armando Tejedor Reyes, Engineer of 1444 (aged 39)
  • José Alfredo Obregón Japón, Conductor of 1444 (aged 44)
  • Álvaro Bernardo Semprún Galán, Brakeman of 737 (aged 42)

Locomotives and cars

UP 2522 consisted of:

  • SD70 2522
  • SD70 2621
  • SD40 1551
  • GP50 1000
  • SD60 2122
  • 1 box car loaded with boxes of coffee beans
  • 60 covered hopper cars loaded with sugar
  • 1 box car loaded with boxes of coffee beans
  • 60 covered hopper cars loaded with sugar
  • GP40 737
  • SD40 1444

Only locomotives 737 and 1444 were repaired and put back into service. Locomotives 2522, 2621, 1551, 1000, 2122, and 74 freight cars were deemed total losses and scrapped on site.

See also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 ₵30 million credits