The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history (2022)

By Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media

One ofthemost frightening thoughts a commuter can have isthat their train is going to crash.

Statistically, however, riding the railsissafer than travel by car.

But that doesn't mean it's entirely without risk. Some New Jersey rail disastershave made national headlines, and one crash is considered among the worstin American history.

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NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal crash (Sept. 29, 2016)

On Sept. 29, 2016, anNJ Transit Pascack Valley Line commuter train crashed through a barrier at the end of the tracks in Hoboken Terminal,killing a woman who was walking through the station concourse and injuring 108 other people.

The train inexplicably accelerated to twice the 10 mph speed limit as it was entering the station platform area.By the time the emergency brakes were applied, it was too late tostop the train from crashing through a bumper at the end of the tracks.

Although an official cause for the crash won't berevealeduntil February6, 2018 at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing, NTSB documents revealed thatengineer Thomas Gallagher tested positive for severe sleep apnea.

After the crash,NJ Transit required "safety sensitive" train workers to undergo screeningsfor sleep disorders.In April, NJ Transit put a mandatory program in place requiring annual screenings for engineers.

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The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history (1)

Aftermath of the Hoboken crash. Photo courtesy of National Transportation Safety Board

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Train crashes into pasta factory (July 7, 1982)

An engineer was killed on July7, 1982,when a commuter train operated by Conrail for NJ Transit crashed into a pasta factory after it derailed in Fair Lawn.Teenagers who tampered with a track switch were blamed for the crash.

After the train was divertedfrom the Bergen Line and ran off the end of an industrial rail siding, the lead car traveled 60 feetinto thebuilding, killing the engineer and seriously injuring a 14-year-old boy,according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Five teenage boys were charged with vandalizing the tracks andtwo of them were sentenced to five years in a youth correctional facility after pleadingguilty to manslaughter.

One of the teens, Peter Wade, later turnedhis story into a film starring Chris Gunn, John Heard and Ice-T, much tothe anger of the family of engineer Jack Duffy.

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(Video) "Man Failure: The Story of New Jersey's Deadliest Train Wreck"

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Trains collide in the meadows (Feb. 9, 1996)

Two NJ Transit commuter trains sideswiped each other in Secaucus on the morning of Feb. 9, 1996, killing three people and injuring 168 of the 400 passengers.

The near head-on collision happened after a Bergen Line train to Hoboken went through a stop signal andhit a Main Line train en route from Hoboken, according toa National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash.The engineer of the Bergen Line train tried to stop after realizing he'd passed a red signal, and the ensuing crashkilled both engineers and a passenger.

The NTSB blamed the accident on the vision problems of theBergen Line engineer. The NTSB recommended better vision screening and called for the installation of an automatic system that would stop a train if an engineer ran a signal.

About 20 years later, the federal government mandated that railroads across the country install such a system by the end of 2018.

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The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history (2)

A National Transportation Safety Board inspector examines awrecked NJ Transit locomotive involved in a two-train collision in the Secaucus meadows where two rail lines converge. (Jerry McCrea | The Star-Ledger)

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Hudson and Manhattan derailment (April 26, 1942)

The worst crash on the rail systemthat later became the PATH took place on April 26, 1942, when aNew York-boundHudson and Manhattan train jumped the tracksas it entered Exchange Place station in Jersey City, killing five people on board and injuring 217.

Survivors said the train was speeding when it entered the station, which had a 12 mph speed limit. The first car jumped the tracks andtoreup electrified sections of the third rail, which started a fire.

The third car telescoped through the second and both crashed into the station walls. Firefighters had to use torches to free some of the victims from the wreckage.

The crash cut telephone lines between Jersey City and Manhattan. Thetrain's motorman was later charged with five counts of manslaughter and one count of operating a train under the influenceof alcohol.

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The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history (3)

A Hudson and Manhattan Railroad post card shows trains in tunnels under the Hudson River (Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

(Video) The LOST Central Railroad of New Jersey - The Story of NJ's Forgotten Trains - IT'S HISTORY

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Winslow Junction derailment (July 2, 1922)

Seven peopledied and89 were hurt on July 22, 1922, when an express train from Atlantic City to Philadelphia derailed in Winslow Junction after a toweroperatormistook it for a slower freight train and sentit onto the wrong track.

The fast moving trainleft the tracks and most of the six-car train plunged into a deep embankment.

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The Teacher's Wreck (April, 29, 1911)

An excursion trainfrom Utica, N.Y., derailed on April 29, 1911 in Martin's Creek,near the Delaware River, killing 12 people and injuring 50. The train, carrying 169 teachers and other passengers to Washington, D.C., sideswiped an oil tank on the Pennsylvania Railroad after it derailed, which coated the wooden rail cars with oil.

The locomotive and four cars fell down a 40 foot embankment and fires broke outon both ends of the train, started by stoves in a dining car and by the locomotive's firebox. Injured passengers helped free other people who were trapped in the wreckage.

The crash, known as the Teacher’s Wreck, happened on a curve where repair crews had been working on the tracks. Regulators used the wreck and resulting fire to lobby for replacement of wooden railcars with passenger cars made from steel.

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The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history (4)

The Teacher's Wreck, via Wikimedia Commons

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Rear-end collision kills 17 (July 11, 1904)

On July 11, 1904,17 people were killed and 40 seriously injuredin a rear-end collision in Midvale (now Wanaque), when a chartered Erie Railroad trainfrom Hoboken to Greenwood Lake was struck by another train after the special had stopped.

All of the passengers who were killed and injured werefrom the First Plattdeutscher Club of Hoboken, which had charteredthe train.

(Video) Extra 1104 - The Story of the Rockport Train Wreck

The special had stopped neara water towerin Midvale,and the regular Greenwood Lake excursion train came around a curve andstruck it. No signal had been set out towarn other trains that the special had stopped.

The engineer of theexcursion train could not stop in time and thetrain crashed into the rear car of the special, lifting it up andpushing it through the body of nextrail car.

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The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history (5)

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Newark Bay drawbridge disaster (Sept. 15, 1958)

On Sept. 15, 1958,48people diedwhen their Central Railroad of New Jersey commuter train plunged offan open Newark Bay drawbridgein Bayonne. Whythe train went through a red signal remains a mystery.

Among the dead wereformer New York Yankees second baseman George "Snuffy" Stirnweissand John Hawkins, the mayor of Shrewsbury, who was carrying $250,000 in negotiable bonds that were recovered from the wreckage.

The bridge had opened to let a barge pass, butTrain 3314 from Bay Head accelerated to twice the 22 mph posted speed and blew past a red signal. A last minute application of the emergency brake failed to stop two locomotives and two rail cars from catapulting intoNewark Bay. A third rail car was left dangling 80 feet in the air.

While the accident was attributed to human errorbecausethe engineer didn't stop at the red signal, no reason has been found for the train's sudden acceleration. The engineer died in the crash.

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Derailment kills 50 in Warren County (June 16, 1925)

Fifty people were killedwhena special Delaware, Lackawanna and Western train traveling from Chicago to New York derailedin Rockport, near Hackettstown, after it hit a track switch clogged with debris from a storm.The train was filled with German travelers who were going to New York to sail home.

The steam locomotive pulling the train plunged down an embankment, and rail cars landed on top of the locomotive.Asteam pipe ruptured on the locomotive, which scalded passengers in the cars. Many died from those burns.

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(Video) Witnesses Recall Horror Of Deadly New Jersey Train Crash

Atlantic City bridge wreck (Oct. 28, 1906)

A bridge problem was blamed for an accident that killed 53 people after a West Jersey and Seashore Railroad train ran off a drawbridge near Atlantic City.Atrain from Camden was crossing the bridge when it derailed and the first two cars fell 15 feet intoa creek known as the Throughfare.

A third car hung from the bridge briefly before it also fell into the water. A brakeman on that car held open a rear door to allow passengers to escape before it fell.

The crash was caused because the bridge was slightly raised and had not returned to the proper level after it had been opened.

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The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history (6)

A crane removes one of several cars of a train that derailed on a bridge and fell in to a creek,killing 53 people in October 1906 near Atlantic City. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

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The "Broker" derailment in Woodbridge (Feb. 6, 1951)

Thestate's deadliest train crash killed 85 people and injured345 passengers. It happenedwhen a commuter train running between Jersey City and Bay Head left the rails in Woodbridge on Feb. 6, 1951. The crash has been called one of the worst in American history.

The Pennsylvania Railroadtrain,known as the "Broker" because it served Wall Street commuters, derailed on a sharp curve to a temporary wooden bridge constructed while a new bridge was being being built near Legion Place. The train hit the temporary track at 50 mph, which was twice the speed limit for the temporary span.

The locomotive overturned and eight of the 11 cars derailed and slid down an embankment. Some of the steel passenger cars were torn open by the force of the crash, while the ends of other rail cars were crushed by the impact. Welders had to cut some of the cars open to free passengers.

Afederal investigationruled that it was caused by speeding. The locomotive was not equipped with a speedometer and the engineer told federal investigators that he was looking for a trackside signal indicating when he should slow down. A monument to the victims of the crash is located near the Woodbridge train station.

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Read more about train crashes and safety:

The most infamous disasters in N.J. history.

A day that Bayonne can’t forget.

More than 600 trains derailed in N.J. over 20 years.

(Video) One dead after commuter train crashes in New Jersey

The nine big safety changes at NJ Transit since Hoboken crash.

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FAQs

What is the deadliest train crash in history? ›

The Maurienne Derailment – Between 800 & 1,000 Deaths

The single worst railway disaster in history, the Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne incident took place the same year as the previous disaster on this list.

What caused the great train wreck? ›

In its official report, the ICC was harsh on the NC&StL. A combination of poor operating practices, human error and lax enforcement of operating rules led to the worst passenger train wreck in U.S. history.

Has there ever been an accident with a bullet train? ›

In 2011, a high-speed bullet train crashed near the south-eastern city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, killing 40 people. The Chinese government later admitted that the crash was caused by design flaws and sloppy management.

How many people have died by trains? ›

In the United States, the number of rail fatalities in 2020 decreased to 767 in total.
...
Fatalities in U.S. railroad accidents from 2005 to 2020.
CharacteristicNumber of fatalities
2019862
2018806
2017817
2016761
9 more rows
12 Jul 2022

Can you survive underneath a train? ›

So the answer is yes – it is possible to survive lying under the oncoming train, but it is very unlikely that you could survive that without a major injury. It is a good idea to stay away from railroad tracks.

What was the first ever train crash? ›

September 15, 1830 – United Kingdom – William Huskisson becomes the first widely reported passenger train death. During the ceremonial opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, while standing on the track at Parkside he is struck and fatally injured by the locomotive Rocket.

How many train derailments are there in 2020? ›

The Federal Railroad Administration reports that there were 4,365 derailments in the U.S. from January 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020—out of 6,320 total railway accidents.

How common were train wrecks in the 1800s? ›

Train wrecks were shockingly common in the last half of the 1800s. Train travel was quite safe in the first half century of the 1800s. Trains didn't go very fast and there weren't many miles of track laid down. But around 1853, the number of train wrecks and people killed on trains suddenly rose sharply.

How many people were killed in bullet train? ›

At Least 1,300 People - Killed when their bullet train was destroyed by the malfunctioning bullet train. One of the White Death's Men - Hit in the head by a fire extinguisher thrown by Ladybug and sucked out of a bullet train.

Did China bury a train? ›

Chinese citizens almost one year ago were outraged to see government officials pushing into a dirt pit the ruins of a wrecked rail car left from the deadly Wenzhou train crash, literally burying a visible reminder of one of the world's worst high-speed rail accidents. Today, the burying continues.

What happens when the bullet train hits something? ›

So if the bullet hits something on the ground, it will hit it going 2,000 mph. If you shoot the bullet off the back of the train, the bullet will still be moving away from you and the gun at 1,000 mph, but now the speed of the train will subtract from the speed of the bullet.

Are trains safer than planes? ›

HOW SAFE ARE TRAINS? Trains are statistically much safer than driving. In 2020, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics recorded 40,867 total deaths from travel, including in planes, in cars on highways and on trains.

How often do trains hit people? ›

Train Accident Statistics

Trains are estimated to kill 1 person every 100 minutes. Each year nearly 1,000 people are killed in train related accidents.

What is train accident called? ›

A train wreck, train collision, train accident or train crash is a type of disaster involving one or more trains.

Do train drivers sleep? ›

Relay work requires multiple crews to drive the train continuously from one specified destination to another and return. Importantly, the nature of relay work requires train drivers to sleep on-board during designated resting shifts.

What happens if you put salt on train tracks? ›

Never dump salt directly on railroad crossings. Salt causes circuitry wiring to short out, causing malfunctions to the lights and gates.

Has anyone survived getting hit by a train? ›

This includes the most disastrous of all accidents—a train-on-train collision, which can have catastrophic consequences. Approximately 1,000 people per year are killed in train accidents. However, the individual hit by the train sometimes survives and lives to tell the story of what it was like.

How many trains derail in the U.S. per year? ›

That's an average of 1,704 derailments per year. Those numbers might seem pretty staggering, but derailments vary in severity and only a portion result in injuries. During that same time frame, 5,547 people were injured when a train derailed, or about 174 per year.

How long can a train block a road in Arizona? ›

In Arizona, if an engineer, conductor or other employee of a railroad permits a locomotive or railcars to be or remain on a crossing of a public highway or over the railway in a manner that obstructs travel over the crossing for longer than 15 minutes is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor. Ariz.

How many miles does it take for a train to stop? ›

Trains have the right-of-way because they cannot quickly stop for a motorist at crossings or for trespassers on the tracks. The average freight train, traveling at 55 MPH, takes anywhere from 1 to 1½ miles to stop. Traveling at the same speed, the average automobile can stop in only 200 feet.

Who was first person killed on the railway? ›

On September 15th, 1830 the MP for Liverpool and former Cabinet minister, William Huskisson, alighted from his carriage on the steam locomotive Northumbrian and became the first person ever to die in a railway accident.

Who was killed by Stephenson's Rocket? ›

The train that struck William Huskisson was Stephenson's Rocket, making the return part of the historic journey between Liverpool and Manchester. George Stephenson was on board at the time, but the driver was his young apprentice, Edward Entwhistle.

How much does railroad track weight per foot? ›

What is this? Today, the major rail arteries around the country employ track that weight at least 120 pounds but some can weight up to 140 pounds.

Can a tree derail a train? ›

Some of the most common derailing incidents caused by an obstruction on the tracks involve snow, fallen trees (or thick branches), or vehicles.

How many deer get hit by trains a year? ›

It is estimated that every year some 5,000 deer are hit by trains all over the country. While those collisions alone lead to widespread delays and damage, the problem is even larger when you include the delays caused by deer that don't get hit by trains too.

When was the last train derailment in the United States? ›

2020s. 2022 Missouri train derailment, Mendon, Missouri; 4 killed and 150 injured.

What country has the most train deaths? ›

China: 876.22 billion passenger-km/year, 317 deaths over 20 years. This is one death per 55.3 billion passenger-km.

Which is the safest carriage on a train? ›

The middle of the train is by far the safest for persons."

Can you survive a train crash? ›

How to Survive a Train Crash - YouTube

Who is the White Death Bullet Train? ›

The White Death is the main antagonist of the 2022 action/comedy film Bullet Train, based on Kōtarō Isaka's 2010 dark comedic thriller novel Maria Beetle. He is the cruel and brutal leader of a criminal empire in Kyoto, Japan, who seized control over it by betraying and killing its former leader.

Are bullet trains safe? ›

The Shinkansen bullet train system has an impeccable safety record over its more than 50-year history, thanks to a number of measures that have been cemented in place to safeguard against accidents and natural disasters.

Why was the wolf on the train? ›

(The Wolf was on the train to find The Hornet, because she also killed his wife, so he had no connection to White Death either). Of course, the White Death also blamed his son for his wife's death. And that brings us to Ladybug's presence on the train.

How fast does a bullet train go? ›

The bullet train, or “Shinkansen”, is a type of passenger train which operates on Japan's high-speed railway network. Capable of reaching a maximum speed of 320kms per hour, the bullet train offers riders an exceptionally unique and efficient travel experience.

Is there a subway under the Great Wall of China? ›

Preserving the Great Wall

The Badaling Great Wall Station is the world's deepest high-speed railway station. Buried 102 meters (335 feet) below ground and covering an area of more than 36,000 square meters, the three-story structure is said to be the world's deepest and largest underground high-speed railway station.

Is the bullet train underground? ›

Eighty percent of the 286 kilometers (177 mile) Maglev bullet train track will be located underground, passing under urban sprawl and mountainous terrain.

Can you stop a bullet with your hand? ›

The answer you are looking for is no. The point of bullets is to kill people. If you tried, you would find the bullet goes by too fast to see, much less reach out and catch. If the bullet hit your fingers, most likely they would be shot off.

Why do trains run boys? ›

A-Train has a history of abusing Compound V — a chemical substance engineered by Vought International — to ensure he is the fastest speedster in the world. This abuse, however, comes at a price when he accidentally kills Robin Ward by running through her.

What is the biggest train crash? ›

Queen of The Sea, Sri Lanka

The Queen of The Sea train crash in Sri Lanka, caused by the Indian Ocean Tsunami which struck in December 2004, is regarded as the worst train disaster in railroad history after it caused the death of over 1,700 people.

What is the safest transport in the world? ›

Conclusions. Commercial flights are the safest transport mode. In the past decade, there hasn't been a single full plane crash in the US. The fatalities rate during this past decade so low that even if you fly your during your entire life, you only have 1 out of 1,500 chances of dying.

How safe is riding Amtrak? ›

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, as reported by The Washington Post, between 2000 and 2014, Amtrak's total accident rate per million passenger miles dropped by more than half, from 4.1 to 1.7. (The numbers are not an all-time low; rather, they hover near previous lows in the late 1980s and early '90s.)

Are trains faster than cars? ›

With high-speed rail, train travel is always faster than driving. In many cases, it's even faster than flying, once you factor in the whole air travel song-and-dance.

What happens when a train driver hits someone? ›

If the person was struck by a train it is necessarily brought to an immediate stop. This leads to the line being blocked and possible subsequent delays to other trains in the area.

Are trains safe? ›

That's because trains have an excellent safety record! According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), since 1975, there has been an average of 1.3 train accidents per year involving fatalities. Compare that with 2,584 aviation accidents and 700 bus accidents over the same time period.

How do you avoid getting hit by a train? ›

Don't walk, cycle, or ride on or near railroad tracks. Cross tracks only at designated crossings. Stay off bridges and out of tunnels. Finally, if your car stalls on a crossing get out immediately and call the police for help.

Will a penny derail a train? ›

As someone who works on the railroad, you've probably heard about the myth that a single penny or quarter could derail a train. The good news for you is that putting a penny on the tracks isn't likely to cause the train any trouble at all.

Why do so many trucks get hit by trains? ›

Class 8 trucks and tractor-trailers are routinely struck and torn apart by freight and passenger trains because drivers aren't paying enough attention to what they're doing, or think they can beat a train to a grade crossing. Automobiles, of course, fare even worse.

Can an animal derail a train? ›

Although very large obstructions are imagined, it has been known for a cow straying on to the line to derail a passenger train at speed such as occurred in the Polmont rail accident.

What country has the most train deaths? ›

China: 876.22 billion passenger-km/year, 317 deaths over 20 years. This is one death per 55.3 billion passenger-km.

Which is the safest carriage on a train? ›

The middle of the train is by far the safest for persons."

Has there ever been a bullet train accident in Japan? ›

The Mishima Station incident (三島駅事故, Mishima eki jiko) was an incident that took place at Mishima Station in Mishima, Shizuoka, Japan on December 27, 1995, when a 17-year old male student fell to his death after getting caught in a car door of a departing Shinkansen train.

Can you survive a train crash? ›

How to Survive a Train Crash - YouTube

How many people are killed by trains every year? ›

Train Accident Statistics

Each year nearly 1,000 people are killed in train related accidents.

Which country has the safest railway? ›

ORR's analysis found that Britain ranks first for 'whole society' safety risk, which combines the overall average of number fatalities and serious injuries across five risk categories for passenger, employee, level crossing user, trespasser, and other risks.

How fast do trains go? ›

High-speed trains can generally reach 300–350 km/h (190–220 mph). On mixed-use HSR lines, passenger train service can attain peak speeds of 200–250 km/h (120–160 mph).

What should you not do at a train station? ›

At the Stations / Platforms

Do not sit or stand on these lines while waiting for a train. Never try to board a train: once the departure whistle blows, when the 'doors closing' signal sounds or when train crews announce the train doors are closing. Keep children under constant adult supervision.

Which way is safer to sit on a train? ›

Safety experts also recommend choosing a rear-facing seat, because a person sitting there is less likely to be thrown forward during a collision. Trains are more likely to hit something side-on than head-on or from behind, according to the FRA.

What is the best seat on a train? ›

The most comfortable seat is the one all the way up front in the locomotive. Yes, some of Amtrak's trains are Superliners, and they do indeed have two levels. However, only the upper levels connect between the cars. A reserved seat is not an assigned seat.

How safe is the bullet train? ›

Shinkansen is the safest form of transport

In the 57 years since the launch of the world's first bullet train, Japan has had zero cases of death caused by shinkansen derailment or collision.

What is the cockpit of a train called? ›

The cab, crew compartment or driver's compartment of a locomotive, or a self-propelled rail vehicle, is the part housing the train driver, fireman or secondman (if any), and the controls necessary for the locomotive/self-propelled rail vehicle's operation.

How do bullet trains not derail? ›

To guard against derailments, JR East has installed L-shaped metal parts on its train cars as a countermeasure. The parts are designed to hook the cars on the rails, thus preventing them from colliding with side walls.

Can a coin on the track derail a train? ›

As someone who works on the railroad, you've probably heard about the myth that a single penny or quarter could derail a train. The good news for you is that putting a penny on the tracks isn't likely to cause the train any trouble at all.

Are trains safer than cars? ›

Trains are statistically much safer than driving. In 2020, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics recorded 40,867 total deaths from travel, including in planes, in cars on highways and on trains.

What is train accident called? ›

A train wreck, train collision, train accident or train crash is a type of disaster involving one or more trains.

Videos

1. A disastrous train accident kills 85 in New Jersey, United States. HD Stock Footage
(CriticalPast)
2. Secaucus train collision 23 years later
(Thunderbolt 1000 Siren Productions)
3. Head on Collision: The Doodlebug Train Disaster
(Railroad Street)
4. American Railroad Accidents - Train Derailment on 6th February 1951
(Trains TrainsTrains)
5. 1993 Big Bayou Canot Derailment
(What You Haven't Seen)
6. RED ARROW - One of the WORST TRAIN WRECKS in AMERICA
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