Train derailment in Raymond detailed in NTSB preliminary report

Following the derailment of nearly a dozen rail cars on a train near Raymond, Minnesota in March, the National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the incident.

According to the report, on March 30, 2023, at about 12:58 a.m. local time, northbound BNSF Railway freight train L-TWI8801-29I derailed with 23 mixed freight railcars on the Marshall District in Raymond, Minnesota.

The maximum authorized track speed in the derailment area is 49 mph, and preliminary information from the lead locomotive event recorder showed the train’s speed at the time of the derailment was about 43 mph.

Included were 14 hazardous materials tank cars, 10 of which derailed. The derailed tank cars contained 28,900 gallons of denatured ethanol, some of which was released and contributed to a fire.

A precautionary 1/2-mile evacuation radius was prompted by an incident commander onsite, which affected about 800 residents.

According to NTSB officials, the fire was extinguished on the morning of March 31, 2023. There were no reported fatalities or injuries.

The NTSB completed its on-scene tank car examinations on April 1, 2023, and found that hazardous material had been released from five derailed tank cars, two of which sustained punctured shells. Ethanol released through the punctures, "ignited and caused thermal damage to the manway gaskets of three previously unbreached tank cars, which released more ethanol."

Estimated damages to equipment and track infrastructure to be about $1.9 million, according to NTSB.

The train was 2,264 feet long and weighed about 5,423 tons. The crew consisted of one engineer, one conductor, one brakeman, and a conductor trainee.

The section of fractured rail was shipped to the NTSB's rail lab in Topeka, Kansas for further analysis.