Railroad Accidents

Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff

While trains are convenient for travel and for transporting goods, they have become a greater danger over the years as their speed has increased. Sometimes railroad accidents are caused by human error, but other causes include derailment, explosions on board, and bridge collapses.

NOTE: Very few passengers were killed in a single U.S. train wreck up until 1853. The early trains ran slowly and made short trips, night travel was rare, and there were not many of them in operation.

June 17, nr. Charleston, S.C.: boiler exploded on America's first passenger locomotive, The Best Friend of Charleston, injuring the fireman and the engineer.
Nov. 8, nr. Heightstown, N.J.: world's first train wreck and first passenger fatalities recorded. A 24-passenger Camden & Amboy train derailed due to a broken axle, killing 2 passengers and injuring all others. Former president John Quincy Adams and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who later made a fortune in railroads, were aboard.
May 6, Norwalk, Conn.: New Haven Railroad train ran through an open drawbridge and plunged into the Norwalk River. 46 passengers were crushed to death or drowned. This was the first major drawbridge accident.
July 17, Camp Hill, nr. Ft. Washington, Pa.: 2 Northern Penn trains crashed head-on. Approximately 50–60 people died, mostly children on their way to a Sunday school picnic.
Dec. 29, Ashtabula, Ohio: Lake Shore train fell into the Ashtabula River when the bridge it was crossing collapsedduring a snowstorm; 92 people were killed.
Aug. 10, nr. Chatsworth, Ill.: a burning railroad trestle collapsed while a Toledo, Peoria & Western train was crossing, killing 81 and injuring 372.
Aug. 7, Eden, Colo.: train derailed on bridge during flash flood; 96 killed.
March 1, Wellington, Wash.: 2 trains swept into canyon by avalanche; 96 dead.
May 22, Quintinshill, Scotland: 2 passenger trains and troop train collided at Quintinshill near Gretna Green; 227 killed.
Dec. 12, Modane, France: nearly 550 killed in derailment of troop train near mouth of Mt. Cenis tunnel.
July 9, Nashville, Tenn.: 101 killed in a 2-train collision near Nashville.
Nov. 1, New York City: derailment of subway train in Malbone St. tunnel in Brooklyn left 92 dead.
March 14, Virilla River Canyon, Costa Rica: an overcrowded train carrying pilgrims derailed while crossing the Colima Bridge, killing over 300 people and injuring hundreds more.
Dec. 22, nr. Magdeburg, Germany: more than 125 killed in collision; 99 killed in another wreck near Friedrichshafen.
Dec. 16, nr. Rennert, N.C.: 72 killed in derailment and collision of 2 Atlantic Coast Line trains.
March 2, nr. Salerno, Italy: 521 suffocated when Italian train stalled in tunnel.
Oct. 22, nr. Nowy Dwor, Poland: more than 200 reported killed in derailment of Danzig-Warsaw express.
Nov. 22, Richmond Hill, N.Y.: 79 died when one Long Island Railroad commuter train crashed into rear of another.
Feb. 6, Woodbridge, N.J.: 85 died when Pennsylvania Railroad commuter train plunged through temporary overpass.
Oct. 8, Harrow-Wealdstone, England: 2 express trains crashed into commuter train; 112 dead.
Sept. 1, nr. Kendal, Jamaica: about 175 killed when train plunged into ravine.
Sept. 29, nr. Montgomery, West Pakistan: express train crashed into standing oil train; nearly 300 killed.
Dec. 4, St. John's, England: 92 killed and 187 injured as one commuter train crashed into another in fog.
Nov. 14, Pardubice, Czechoslovakia: 2 trains collided; 110 dead, 106 injured.
May 3, nr. Tokyo: 163 killed and 400 injured when train crashed into wreckage of collision between inbound freight train and outbound commuter train.
Nov. 9, nr. Yokohama, Japan: 2 passenger trains crashed into derailed freight train, killing 162.
July 26, Custoias, Portugal: passenger train derailed; 94 dead.
Feb. 4, nr. Buenos Aires: 236 killed when express train crashed into standing commuter train.
July 21, Seville, Spain: head-on crash of two passenger trains killed 76.
Oct. 6, nr. Saltillo, Mexico: train carrying religious pilgrims derailed and caught fire, killing 204 and injuring over 1,000.
Oct. 30, Chicago: 2 Illinois Central commuter trains collided during morning rush hour; 45 dead and over 200 injured.
Aug. 30, Zagreb, Yugoslavia: train entering station derailed, killing 153 and injuring over 60.
June 6, nr. Mansi, India: driver of train carrying over 500 passengers braked to avoid hitting a cow, causing train to plunge off a bridge into the Baghmati River; 268 passengers were reported killed, but at least 300 more were missing.
July 11, Tepic, Mexico: Nogales-Guadalajara train plunged down mountain gorge, killing 120.
Jan. 15, Maizdi Khan, Bangladesh: train carrying Muslim pilgrims crashed head-on with a mail train, killing at least 110 people and injuring as many as 1,000. Many people were riding on the roof of the trains and between the cars.
June 3, Ural Mountains: gas exploded beneath 2 trains, killing 575.
Aug. 10, nr. Los Mochis, Mexico: a passenger train traveling from Mazatlán to Mexicali plunged off a bridge at Puente del Rio Bamoa, killing an estimated 85 people and injuring 107.
Jan. 4, Sangi village, Sindh province, Pakistan: overcrowded 16-car passenger train rammed into a standing freight train. At least 210 people were killed and 700 were believed injured in what is said to be Pakistan's worst train disaster.
Sept. 22, nr. Mobile, Ala.: Amtrak's Sunset Limited, en route to Miami, jumped rails on weakened bridge and plunged into Big Bayou Canot, killing 47 people.
Aug. 20, Firozabad, northern India: a speeding passenger train rammed another train that was stalled, killing 358.
March 3, Punjab province, Pakistan: passenger train crashed due to failed brakes, killing 119 and injuring at least 80 people.
June 3, nr. Eschede, Germany: Inter City Express passenger train traveling at 125 mph crashed into support pier of overpass, killing 98. It is nation's worst train accident since WWII.Crash may have been caused by a defective wheel.
Aug. 2, Calcutta, India: 2 trains collided north of Calcutta, killing at least 285.
Oct. 5, London: outbound Thames commuter train passed a red signal near Paddington Station and collided with London-bound Great Western express, killing 31 people and injuring 245.
Feb. 20, nr. Ayyat, Egypt: 361 killed in fire after gas cylinder used for cooking exploded aboard crowded passenger train. Egypt's worst train disaster.
May 25, Muamba, Mozambique: 192 died and dozens more injured when passenger cars rolled for several miles at top speed into freight cars from which they had been disconnected because of mechanical problems.
June 24, nr. Msagali, central Tanzania: runaway passenger train collided with freight train on same track, leaving 200 dead.
Feb. 18, Neishabour, Iran: runaway rail cars, loaded with fertilizer, petrol, and sulfur products, rolled 31 mi down the rails, caught fire, and exploded, killing more than 320 and devastating 5 villages.
Mar, 11, Madrid, Spain: Spain's most horrific terrorist attack: 191 people were killed and 1,400 were injured in bombings at Madrid's railway station. A Moroccan affiliate of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.
April 22, Ryongchon, North Korea: 2 trains carrying flammable liquids collided, causing a huge explosion near the Chinese border, killing at least 161 and injuring more than 1,300.
April 25, Osaka, Japan: commuter train derailed and hit an apartment building near Osaka, killing at least 107 and injuring 460. It was the worst Japanese train accident since 1963. The accident was allegedly caused by the driver trying to get the train back on schedule.
July 13, Ghotki, Pakistan: 3 trains collided near Ghotki as the Karachi Express driver misread a signal and rammed the Quetta Express. Derailed carriages were then hit by a third train. At least 133 are killed.
Jan. 23, Bioce, Montenegro: a train derailed and plunged into the Moraca canyon, killing 46 and injuring 19.
July 11, Mumbai, India: a series of bombs exploded on commuter trains in Mumbai during the evening rush hour, killing at least 200 people.
Aug. 1, Benaleka, Congo: a passenger train running between Ilebo and Kananga derailed after the brakes failed, killing about 100 people.
Dec. 19, Mehrabpurp, Pakistan: a crowded passenger train derailed, killing at least 45 people and injuring over 100 more.
April 28, China: a passenger train running from Beijing to Qingdao city derailed, killing 70 people and injuring more than 400 others.
Aug. 8, Czech Republic: a passenger train running from Krakow to Prague crashed into a collapsed bridge, killing six people and injuring about 100 others.
Sept. 12, California: a metrolink commuter train collided with a freight train northwest of Los Angeles, killing 25 passengers.
June 22, Washington D.C.: nine people died and over 70 more were injured when a subway train crashed at rush hour.
June 30, Italy: a freight train that was traveling from La Spezia to Pisa derailed and crashed into a small Italian town, killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 more.
Nov. 27, Russia: 26 people are killed when a bomb explodes on a luxury train that runs from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Chechen rebels claim responsibility for the attack..
March 29, Russia: thirty-eight people are killed after two female suicide bombers enter the Moscow Metro.
May 28, India: a passenger train derails in West Bengal to avoid damage on the railway track, hits an oncoming train filled with goods and 148 people are killed.
July 23, China: known as the Wenzhou train collision, due to a signal failure, a high-speed train rear-ends a stopped high-speed train. The collision happens near Whenzhou in the province of Zhejiang. Forty people are killed and 192 are injured.
Nov. 17, Egypt: a train collides with a school bus near Manfalut and at least 50 children and the school bus driver are killed. More than a dozen people are injured.
July 6, Lac-Mégantic, Quebec: an unattended runaway train carrying crude oil derails and explodes. Fifty people are missing and presumed dead. Thirty buildings were destroyed. The engineer had left the train to take a break, engaging the breaks before he left.
July 12, Bretigny-sur-Orge station, France: a passenger train from Paris travels south and slams into a station platform. At least six people are killed and a dozen more are seriously injured. The train provides regional service. The accident happens at the Bretigny-sur-Orge station, 16 miles south of Paris.
July 24, Santiago de Compostela, Spain: a passenger train derails and crashes in northwest Spain, just outside of Santiago de Compostela. At least 78 people are killed and dozens more are injured. Investigators are looking into the reason for the incident, although early reports have said that the train was traveling at an excessive speed, taking a curve at more than twice the speed limit just before it derailed.
Aug. 19, Bihar, India: dozens of Hindu pilgrims are killed while crossing the tracks near a remote station in eastern India when an express train crashes into them. After the crash, the crowd drags out the train's driver and beats him. The crowd also sets the train on fire. The Bihar train station is not accessible by road and express trains usually come through without stopping at a speed of 50 miles per hour. Officials say the driver of the train had clearance to pass through the station. Thirty-seven people are confirmed dead, including several children.
April 22, Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo: a freight train derails while carrying hundreds of illegal passengers. Forty-eight people are killed and more than 160 are injured.
May 2, Seoul, South Korea: a metro train hits another train due to mechanical failure at Sangwangsimni Station in Seoul. More than 200 people are injured.
May 4, Maharashtra, India: a train derails on the Konkan Railway. At least 18 people are killed and 124 injured.
May 20, Naro-Fominsk, Russia: a passenger train runs into a derailed freight train. Nine people are killed. An estimated 50 people are injured.
May 26, Uttar Pradesh, India: a Gorakhdham Express hits a supply train in the Sant Kabir Nagar district. More than 50 people are injured and 25 are killed.
July 15, Moscow, Russia: a Moscow Metro passenger train derails. Twelve people die and 46 are injured.
Sept. 30, Gorakhpur, India: a Krishak Express rear-ends a Lucknow-Barauni Express. Twenty-one people die. More than 150 are injured.
March 20, Uttar Pradesh, India: a Dehradun-Varanasi Janta Express derails. Fifteen people are killed and 150 injured.
April 28, near Johannesburg, South Africa: two passenger trains collide, killing one person. An estimated 240 people are injured.
May 12, Philadelphia, Pa.: an Amtrak Northeast Regional train traveling to New York City derails and overturns in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More than 200 are injured, 11 critically, and eight people are killed. The train is traveling around a curve at 102 mph in a 50 mph zone when it jumps the tracks. National Transportation Safety Board officials investigating the crash say in a news conference that the train may have been hit by a projectile on the front window before it derailed. The train's engineer has no memory of the incident.

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