News & Reviews News Wire Wheelset, track problems led to Missouri theme park derailment, report says

Wheelset, track problems led to Missouri theme park derailment, report says

By | April 1, 2023

Incident on 2-foot gauge steam railroad injured seven in October 2022

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Two-foot gauge steam locomotive at theme park
Two-foot gauge steam locomotive at theme park
The “Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train” at the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Mo. A report has detailed causes of an October 2022 derailment that injured seven people. Silver Dollar City via Facebook

BRANSON, Mo. — A series of wheelset and track issues led to the derailment of a theme-park railroad in October 2022, according to a report released by the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office.

One employee and six passengers were injured in the derailment on the 2-foot gauge“Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train” at the Silver Dollar City park in Branson [see “Seven injured when theme-park train derails …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 26, 2022]. KYTV reports an investigation by the fire marshal’s office and Wolf Railway Consulting found uneven wear in a side bearing allowed coach No. 3 to lean, and that springs in trucks were not the same height. Also, the track had a rail misalignment, inconsistently spaced ties, and loose bolts at rail joints.

The Missouri Department of Transportation also found track warp at the point of the derailment could be another factor.

The fire marshal’s office offered the theme park a series of recommendations regarding track standards and recommended that weight be evenly distributed during passenger loading. Silver Dollar City said in a statement to the TV station that it has “implemented several changes to modernize safety and procedural standards for the train,” and that the fire marshal’s office has reviewed those changes and released the train for operation.

5 thoughts on “Wheelset, track problems led to Missouri theme park derailment, report says

  1. Wow. What an amazing example of “The Swiss Cheese Effect.” Six different things all came together to cause the derailment.

  2. I recently commented on the Trains Spanish RR forum that I was frustrated and discouraged that any NON-standard gauge railroad that was a common carrier or had common carrier revenue potential, should have been standard gauged long ago. What I neglected to mention was that any railroad less than 3′ or 3 meters would/could/should be an exception. That said, I’m a big fan of 2′ gauge (610 mm or 600 mm) railroads as in Maine, Hawaii, Chicago Tunnel, northern India, etc., that could easily lend themselves to a community railfan project, or even on one’s own private property, acreage permitting, and for the Trains backyard garden railroad magazine buffs. However, finding reasonably priced (surplus) steel rails could be difficult, so I came up with an idea for straight-line 2′ rail construction in the earth or paved roadway, using 1/4″ THICK-walled optioned steel mill C-purlins cut in half down the middle to create two J-purlins that the steel mill service could cut and provide. The J-purlin rails could be placed in the ground, coves facing each other at 2′ (gauge) apart, while at the same time inbetween, containing rebar reinforced, poured concrete in 2′ X 8′-10′, 4″-6″ thick slabs, with some water drainage capability if necessary. Black tar and zinc chromate paint would help prevent concrete to steel purlin corrosion, and pressure treated wood stringers wegded in the cove of the J-purlins would eliminate cracking the edge of the concrete like a chocolate bar while providing wheel flange clearance. The space between the top of the concrete slab to the top of the rails could be filled with either dirt or asphalt, think trolleys. Creating curves with J-purlins would not be easy and therefore probably necessitate the need for light duty rails for bending, along with wood ties.

    1. I neglected to mention above that C-purlins are not only available in different wall thicknesses, but also in different height and width dimensions, such as 4″, 6″, 8″, or 10″ etc..

    2. I don’t think there are any non-standard gauge common carrier railroads in the US. The 3 foot gauge US gypsum industrial railroad is not a common carrier. The other narrow gauge railroads like the ones in Colorado and elsewhere are tourist railroads or museums.

      There are other gauges used in other countries. There is a lot of 3′ 6″ gauge track in Japan. And they have broad gauge trackage in India, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Ukraine, Russia and Ireland. It would be quite a project to convert them all to standard gauge.

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