Discussion relating to the D&H. For more information, please visit the Bridge Line Historical Society.

Moderator: MEC407

  by shlustig
Double-track with TCS Rules; 40 mph MAS.

TRAIN NWB-4 with 3 units [ 1-U33 & 2 U30's] and 122 cars + caboose Dpd. Binghamton for Mechanicville at about 1:55PM. After reducing speed to 20mph at Oneonta, speed was increased to about 32 mph when the train derailed on a curve at about 4:20PM. The locomotive did not derail, but the head 29 cars did.

Of the derailed cars, some were LPG loads which ruptured and ignited and there were subsequent explosions. About 55 firemen and bystanders were injured.

Cause of the initial derailment was a defective center sill on the 3rd head car (loaded covered hopper) which was twisted upward applying pressure to the coupler of the 4th head car on the curve, and the cars derailed on the curve causing wide gauge which in turn caused the general derailment. .
  by Wayside
I remember this incident being included in the BLEVE (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion) video that we used at the Conway training center. Amazing footage of this and the Kingman AZ explosions.
  by Roscoe P. Coaltrain
In my records I have this as happening on 2/12/74
  by shlustig
Feb. 12, 1974 is correct. My error.
  by Engineer Spike
I worked with a conductor named Steve Hurteau, who was a brakeman on that train. We were on a Binghamton to Albany job, and he mentioned it. He had some newspaper clippings. One was a 30 years ago type article, which he said one of the Oneonta guys saved for him.
  by deezlfan
Anyone interested in pictures of the fire before the explosion and the aftermath?
  by staustell92
I also recall this incident involving propane tank cars between Emmons and Colliers. Fortunately (and miraculously), no one was killed.

As I recall, a firefighter from Milford lost an arm when a ladder from one of the tank cars hit him during the explosion. One of the tank cars, as I recall, became airborne during the explosion and came to rest on the south side of the Susquehanna River. The explosion rattled windows at least as far away as Milford, and shattered windows for several miles around. One or two Oneonta firefighters were severely burned and spent time in the burn unit at Albany Medical Center (when they had one). Firefighters were fairly close to the fire, shooting water on the tank cars in an effort to keep them cool so they wouldn't explode. At least one exploded anyway.

Today, I believe the Emergency Response Guidebook published by the U.S. DOT and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) instructs emergency personnel to evacuate an area of at least a half-mile radius in a situation like this and let the fire burn itself out. There's no point in risking injury or loss of life in a situation like this.

You may recall that there have been quite a number of tank car explosions (over a dozen, as I recall) since 2013 which involved the extremely volatile Bakken crude oil. In these cases, the crude oil could have been made less volatile if it had been treated before it was loaded into the tank cars. Unfortunately, the shippers didn't want to bother.