Tuxtla Martínez train disaster

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Tuxtla Martínez train disaster
A destroyed house covered in spilled cocaine.
A destroyed house covered in spilled cocaine.
Tuxtla Martínez is located in Creeperopolis
Tuxtla Martínez
Tuxtla Martínez
Tuxtla Martínez (Creeperopolis)
Details
Date15 November 2007; 16 years ago (2007-11-15)
7:36 a.m. (TSS)
LocationTuxtla Martínez, Zapatista, Creeperopolis
CoordinatesWMA button2b.png 44°13′12″S 54°47′52″W
LineTuxtla Martínez Line at Cajon Pass
OperatorUnión Pacífico
Incident typeRunaway train and derailment
CauseTrain weight miscalculated and several locomotives with inoperative dynamic brakes
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]

On 15 November 2007, a freight train operated by Unión Pacífico derailed and crashed into a neighborhood in Tuxtla Martínez, Zapatista, Creeperopolis, killing twelve people and injuring fifteen more. The derailment spilled the train's cargo shipment across the ground of the neighborhood it crashed in, and emergency services noticed looked remarkably similar to cocaine. Eventually, the Creeperian National Police (PNC) identified the material as cocaine and the Creeperian Army was mobilized the secure the crash site and prevent any criminal organizations from attempting to retrieve the cocaine shipment.

Two separate investigations were conducted simultaneously: an accident investigation and a criminal investigation. The accident investigation was led by the Imperial Transportation Safety Administration (AIST), a branch of the Ministry of Transportation, and concluded that the accident occurred as a result of a miscalculation of the train's weight by the yard master and because three of the seven locomotives involved in the accident had inoperative dynamic brakes, making the train's breaking power less efficient. The criminal investigation was led by the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) and found that the Mara Salvatrucha criminal organization had falsely filed paperwork with Unión Pacífico claiming to be the National Coffee and Sugar Corporation requesting a shipment of processed sugar from Tuxtla Martínez to La'Unión, and that Mara Salvatrucha had been carrying out this operation for several months.

The Creeperian National Military Tribunal declared that Unión Pacífico was not legally liable for the transportation of cocaine as the company was misinformed about the cargo it was shipping, but it did find the company responsible for failing to properly calculate train weight and adequately service its locomotives. The tribunal found that the National Coffee and Sugar Corporation had no involvement in the accident, as Mara Salvatrucha had only falsely filed paper work under the company's name. Following the accident, several members of Mara Salvatrucha were arrested and sentenced for prison sentences of various lengths for their alleged involvement in the shipment of cocaine with Unión Pacífico.

The derailment remains the deadliest accident involving a freight train operated by Unión Pacífico, as well as the deadliest freight accident in Tuxtla Martínez's history. It was the deadliest train accident in Creeperian history since the 1946 San Salvador train disaster which killed one hundred fifty-nine people during the Creeperian Civil War, and the deadliest train accident to involve a freight train since the 1978 Adolfosburg train disaster which killed twenty 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 y Zorita, Engineer of 2522 (aged 37) †
  • Martín Gustavo Leoz y Pozo, Conductor of 2522 (aged 41) †
  • Serafín José Mancebo y Velázquez, Brakeman of 2621 (aged 35) †
  • Nicolás Armando Tejedor y Reyes, Engineer of 1444 (aged 39)
  • José Alfredo Obregón y Japón, Conductor of 1444 (aged 44)
  • Álvaro Bernardo Semprún y 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. ₵30 million credits