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Sun Apr 25, 2021, 06:50 AM

On this day, April 25, 1946, the wreck of the Exposition Flyer occurred.

Last edited Mon Apr 26, 2021, 07:04 AM - Edit history (3)

2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the wreck. There's a big article in the Chicago Tribune in recognition of the anniversary. I'll post excerpts of it in a reply. The photographs are gruesome.

This wreck is why we don't have high-speed passenger trains in the US. {I edited the sentence, twice, to change "fast trains" to "high-speed passenger trains."}

Sat Apr 25, 2020: On this day, April 25, 1946, the wreck of the Exposition Flyer occurred.

I note it over the years.

Thu Apr 25, 2019: Today is the 73rd Anniversary of the Wreck of the Exposition Flyer.

Tue Apr 25, 2017: It's the 71st Anniversary of the Wreck of the Exposition Flyer.

Sat Apr 25, 2015: The wreck of the Exposition Flyer, April 25, 1946

This is of note, because it caused the Interstate Commerce Commission to institute new regulations regarding train speeds and signaling systems.

Naperville train disaster

The Naperville train disaster occurred April 25, 1946, on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad at Loomis Street in Naperville, Illinois, when the railroad's Exposition Flyer rammed into the Advance Flyer, which had made an unscheduled stop to check its running gear. The Exposition Flyer had been coming through on the same track at 80 miles per hour (130 km/h). 45 people died, and some 125 were injured.

Long-term results

This crash is a major reason why most passenger trains in the United States have a speed limit of 79 mph (127 km/h). The CB&Q, Milwaukee Road, and Illinois Central were among railroads in the region running passenger trains at up to and above 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) in the 1930s and 1940s. The Interstate Commerce Commission ruled in 1951 that trains traveling 80 mph or more must have "an automatic cab signal, automatic train stop or automatic train control system", expensive technology that was implemented on some lines in the region, but has since been mostly removed.

The Burlington increased headway on the two trains from 2 minutes to 15 minutes in May, and added a signal position, flashing yellow, for a total of 4 positions. They continued to haul mixed heavyweight/lightweight trains, but at the time they were already rapidly replacing heavyweight cars with stainless steel lightweight “Zephyr” type cars. All units in both trains would return to service except the Advance Flyer's last coach and the dining car, both were total losses.

Following this disaster, advancements in train speed in the United States essentially halted. However, select Amtrak passenger trains run at up to 150 mph (240 km/h) as of 2013.

External links

Photos of the Day: Naperville, Illinois Rail Disaster (1946)

Scroll down to see the pictures. You'll think you're at the wrong site at first.

The Great Naperville Train Disaster

The following article from 2011 is strangely written and full of odd claims. It does, however, link to many photographs of the event.

The 65th Anniversary Of The Naperville Train Crash

The 65th Anniversary Of The Naperville Train Crash
By Barek Halfhand

April 25th 2011 at 1:03 pm marked the 65th anniversary of one of the worst railroad accidents in American history leaving 43 dead and 125 injured …I arrived in far west suburban Naperville at


The transformation of steam to diesel powered locomotives transpiring nationwide by way of Smoke Abatement , air pollution and Clean Air legislation that started as early as the late 20’s had a dramatic effect on all modes of personal and logistical transportation …these new environmental regulatory statutes radically changed the air quality and general tidiness of the Union Station depot loading platforms …anyone that has had any experience related to a coal knows that with it comes a fine layer of soot regardless of efforts to contain, manage or remove it…the passengers that filed in and out of the trains as either daily commuters or transient travelers alike probably welcomed this change …


At some point crew members aboard the Advance Flyer observed an unidentified object ejected from the underside of one of the carriages as they approached the Naperville city limits and the engineer was forced to make an unscheduled stop at the Loomis Street station to check for damages and conduct an impromptu safety inspection…the engineer of Exposition Flyer speeding along a disputed excessive speed speed 80 plus miles an hour did not see the red warning light and by the time he did visually identify the impeded train and frenzied flag waver ahead, the indefatigable leviathan juggernaut slammed into the last car of the Advance Flyer with such velocity, impact and unimaginable force that it literally split the last car in two up the middle…what followed was a scene of confusion, shock, devastation, carnage, twisted metal wreckage and the tumultuous caterwauling of pain and cries for help …


"The indefatigable leviathan juggernaut"? Whatever. "Clean air legislation" might have brought about the electrification of the New York Central, the Pennsylvania, and the New Haven Railroads into New York City, but it most certainly was not a major factor in the railroads' change from steam to diesel.

Here is the Interstate Commerce Commission accident report:


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Reply On this day, April 25, 1946, the wreck of the Exposition Flyer occurred. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2021 OP
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2021 #1
harumph Apr 2021 #2
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2021 #3
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2021 #4
onethatcares Apr 2021 #5

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 07:57 AM

1. Two trains, one tragedy: Remembering the deadly wreck that shook Naperville 75 years ago

There are several photographs in the article. If you can get past the paywall, the article is worth reading.

Two trains, one tragedy: Remembering the deadly wreck that shook Naperville 75 years ago

Two trains, one tragedy: Remembering the deadly wreck that shook Naperville 75 years ago

NAPERVILLE SUN | APR 24, 2021 AT 8:32 AM

{Snip a picture that is in a format that does not display at DU. It's the one in the tweet. Here's the cutline:}

Workers from the Kroehler Furniture company work to pull survivors from a passenger car after a two-train wreck on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad tracks adjacent to the Naperville factory on April 25, 1946. (Charles W. Cushman/Indiana University Archives) (Indiana University Archives)

The school day ended earlier than usual for Ron Keller when his father drove over to pick him up from Miss McDermond’s class on April 25, 1946. ... Dad didn’t want the young boy anywhere near the railroad tracks at Loomis Street, which he’d typically cross on his walk home from Ellsworth School. ... In the car, the elder Keller told his son about a horrific wreck in Naperville, explaining how one train ran into the back end of another.

“As a first-grader, I didn’t quite understand what the problem was because all I could relate to was my Lionel train. When one train ran into the other one, you’d put it back on the track,” said Keller, who for more than 50 years has been the Naperville Municipal Band conductor.

When their car reached the wooden bridge on Columbia Street over the railroad tracks, Keller’s dad stopped so they could survey the jumbled crash site. ... “You could see the mess that was there,” Keller said. “The locomotive of the second train ran almost completely through the back car of the lead train. Peeled it open like a tin can.”

Sunday marks the 75th anniversary of the crash, one of the worst train wrecks in Illinois history in which 45 people were killed and many more injured. ... Naperville residents — the town had a population of about 5,000 in 1946 — rushed to the aid of survivors and collect the dead in a disaster that shattered the early afternoon peace.


[email protected]


How the 1946 disaster in Naperville resulted in limits being placed on train speeds

Timeline of deadly 1946 train collision in Naperville

Sculpture near Naperville train station commemorates those who died, survived or helped in 1946 collision

Many of the photographs in the article are from the Charles W. Cushman photograph collection at Indiana University.

Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection


Charles Weever Cushman, amateur photographer and Indiana University alumnus, bequeathed approximately 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to his alma mater. The photographs in this collection bridge a thirty-two year span from 1938 to 1969, during which time he extensively documented the United States as well as other countries.

Indiana University's Digital Library Program and the Indiana University Archives invite you to explore what Cushman saw. Here you can view his photographs as well as read contextual information about Cushman's life and work.

Here's one that will give an idea of how horrible this wreck was:

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 08:01 AM

2. Much of our track isn't capable of handling high speeds.

True high speed rail is going to mean laying new tracks - which
means brokering hundreds of land deals (eminent domain, etc.) Often
bends in the track are too sharp. I'm a high speed rail proponent - my concern is that
it's done right instead of taking the less expensive - though more politically expedient route.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 08:33 AM

3. No, it is NOT the reason United States of America does not have fast trains

A larger number and more horrific airliner crashes have not stopped airline travel.

The reason is that fast trains are too efficient and useful.

If fast trains were allowed, it would mean that fewer cars and trucks would be sold and less hydrocarbon would be fracked and sold. People would prefer to travel in comfort by train rather than slower cars. Goods would be transported faster and more efficiently than by truck. Container to rail to cross half the country and then truck for the very last leg.

Rather like how efficient urban mass transit has been sabotaged by General Motors (reference the Los Angeles streetcar crime) and other companies.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 08:59 AM

4. How the 1946 disaster in Naperville resulted in limits being placed on train speeds

It's the signalling system.

How the 1946 disaster in Naperville resulted in limits being placed on train speeds

NAPERVILLE SUN | APR 24, 2021 AT 8:39 AM

When one passenger train slammed into the back of another in Naperville 75 years ago, the impact was felt throughout the U.S. rail system. ... “At the time, the railroads set their own speeds. Here in Naperville, I think it was about 90 mph,” said Jim Christen, a Naperville resident who contributed much of the technical research in Chuck Spinner’s 2012 book “The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing.”

The Advance Flyer was westbound when it left Union Station in Chicago at 12:35 p.m. April 25, 1946, followed by the Exposition Flyer, which would lag behind two or three minutes on the same track. Reports indicate both trains were running at speeds between 80 and 85 mph.

Two trains, one tragedy: Remembering the deadly wreck that shook Naperville 75 years ago »

When the Advance Flyer was forced to stop in Naperville because of a mechanical issue, caution signals were the only things alerting the second locomotive’s engineer that there was a problem ahead. ... “He came around that curve at around 85 mph,” Christen said. “He closed the gap between the yellow signal by the golf course ... but he didn’t slow down enough. The impact here was at about 45 mph.” ... Because of the Naperville disaster and another crash, a cap of 79 mph would be placed on passenger trains, Christen said.

Timothy Hicks, lead mechanical engineer for Lisle-based accident investigation firm Professional Analysis, said the 1951 mandate permits trains to exceed 79 mph only if automatic train stop equipment is in place, such as automatic cab signals, automatic train stops or automatic train control systems.

Metra and Amtrak trains, for example, are limited to 60 mph and speed limits are slower for freight trains, Hicks said.* However, some high-speed passenger trains do exist, such as Amtrak’s Acela Express, which runs 150 mph at some points between Washington, D.C., and Boston.


[email protected]

* This is a misleading quote. I'm sure Hicks was referring to a specific district, not Amtrka's operations systemwide.

Amtrak trains generally run at 79 mph outside the Northeast Corridor and faster than that within the Northeast Corridor. Depending on the class of track, mainline freight trains in the US are limited to 60 mph by FRA regulations.

I expect that the article will be updated with a correction.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 05:08 PM

5. I wonder if it had any impact

on the reasoning that the state of Florida is responsible for any accidents on tracks owned by CTX. Maybe that was just a repukelican gift to John Snowe.

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