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FRA launches separate ‘Empire Builder’ investigation

By | September 26, 2021

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WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration is launching its own investigation into the Saturday derailment of Amtrak’s westbound Empire Builder in northern Montana.

Specifically, FRA has sent a team of 18 dispatched to the scene consisting of technical experts in track, motive power & equipment, signal and train control, and operating practices. The agency has initiated a thorough forensic investigation and analysis in support of the National Transportation Safety Board.

“The Federal Railroad Administration extends our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and our sincerest hopes for the full and speedy recovery of those injured as a result of the derailment of Amtrak’s Empire Builder Train #7,” FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose says in a statement. “Our number one focus is safety and we are committed to taking all steps necessary to prevent a similar event from occurring again.”

The incident occurred about 4 p.m. at the east end of Buelow siding, according to photos of the scene. Buelow is located at milepost 1015.8, between Havre and Shelby on BNSF Railway’s Hi Line Subdivision.


4 thoughts on “FRA launches separate ‘Empire Builder’ investigation

  1. Was this train under PTC control and therefore operating at the correct speed? And not bypassing any restrictive signals? So most likely a track or equipment failure?

    Wonder what, if anything unusual, was the experience of earlier trains on that section of track.

  2. Why two separate investigations? It’s a small area. Will they not trip over each other? I am not accusing, I am asking.
    Please help me understand.

    Jim Uttley

  3. I hope these investigations include looking at sabotage. There have been a number of derailments caused by radical environmentalists against oil trains. This was a remote area where few if any would notice saboteurs and with track work ongoing it might not even raise eyebrows if it was noticed. They probably didn’t intend to derail Amtrak but the oil train they were after might have been delayed or it could have been the freight that passed the location 80 minutes prior to the Builder.

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