Progressive Railroading

Newsletter Sign Up
Stay updated on news, articles and information for the rail industry

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation


Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

NTSB investigating ethanol train derailment in Iowa

The NTSB is investigating an ethanol train derailment that occurred March 10 in Iowa.
Photo – NTSB


The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating last week's derailment of a Union Pacific Railroad freight train near Graettinger, Iowa.

Twenty rail tank cars derailed March 10 near Jack Creek in Iowa. The train consisted of three locomotives and 101 cars, 99 of which were carrying ethanol. Fifteen cars caught fire and two continued to burn for more than 36 hours, according to an NTSB press release and local news reports.

The incident resulted in no injuries, fatalities or evacuations.

The derailment occurred in the early morning hours after the train left Superior, Iowa, on its way to Texas. A bridge over Jack Creek was destroyed in the incident. At least four of the cars ended up in the creek.

Shortly before the derailment, the train went into emergency braking, which was not induced by the engineer, according to the NTSB.

Some of the tank cars involved were legacy DOT-111 cars, which the board has identified as carrying the risk of releasing hazardous materials or flammable liquids during an incident.

Congress has mandated the rail industry to phase out the use of DOT-111s for carrying hazardous materials or flammable liquids. The NTSB has called for replacing DOT-111 tank cars with DOT-117 cars as soon as possible.

"We remain concerned about continued use of DOT-111 cars for transporting flammable materials, such as ethanol," NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt said March 11 during a media briefing on the derailment.

The government phaseout deadline for use of DOT-111s to carry ethanol is 2023, Sumwalt said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/14/2017