Accident Investigation

Despite continuous efforts to improve rail safety, train derailments and other rail-related accidents occasionally do occur, often due to unforeseen mechanical, operational or engineering failures. With personnel experienced and knowledgeable in the fields of infrastructure and equipment engineering as well as train operations, RLBA performs accident investigations with the expertise and timeliness necessary for a thorough analysis. Services include on-site inspections, track and equipment assessments and complete knowledge of relevant regulations and industry standards.

Select Project Descriptions:


RLBA was engaged by a confidential client to conduct an investigation of a flatcar that spilled its load and derailed. Within 24 hours of being notified of the derailment, RLBA was able to have an investigator on location. Following meetings with the plant manager, the individuals responsible for loading the railcar and the director of operations, RLBA investigator analyzed the derailment site. The field inspection included an analysis of the derailed equipment, inspection of the spilled load and an examination of the track structure. RLBA also took time to assess the way in which the loads were secured on yet-to-be-shipped flatcars at the client’s facility, which was also verified by photographs the client had taken of the derailed railcar prior to its leaving the facility. Following the trip, RLBA’s Manager of Mechanical Services, two Senior Mechanical Associates and its Director of Transportation Engineering worked collaboratively to determine the cause of derailment. Within one week of being engaged, RLBA had determined the cause of derailment and supplied the client with a detailed derailment report, complete with custom diagrams, photographs and engineering analysis.


RLBA was engaged by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company to conduct an investigation of a derailment to determine if one of Nationwide’s customers adjacent to the derailment site was potentially liable for the accident. To that end RLBA;

  1.  conducted an on-site inspection to determine where the derailment physically occurred and
  2. conducted a review of relevant commercial agreements with Union Pacific; and
  3. determined if Nationwide’s customer contributed in any way to the derailment.

The final deliverable included a written summary of the RLBA’s findings, as well as recommendations going forward.


A CSX unit coal train derailed as it was being delivered to VEPCO’s Bremo Bluff Generating Station in Bermo Bluff, VA. RLBA was engaged to serve as a party arbitrator on behalf of VEPCO. Additionally, RLBA identified a neutral arbitrator whom both the shipper and railroad parties agreed to engage. The arbitrators conducted an in-depth review of both entities’ explanation of the derailment, analyzing both provided documentation, as well as conducting an on-site inspection of the derailment area. After deliberation, the arbitrators unanimously found in favor of VEPCO.