More about the Film

Background to the Film - The CSX 8888 Incident

On May 15, 2001, the runaway freight train departed Stanley Yard in Walbridge, Ohio, and began a 66-mile journey southwards through North-Western Ohio with no one at the controls. The engineer had climbed out of the locomotive of the originally slow-moving train in order to correctly set a points lever. This occurred while he was using the locomotive to move a string of freight cars from one track to another within the train yard, believing his train would not be able to stop short of the misaligned points.

After mistakenly believing he had properly activated the train's dynamic braking system, he set the engine's throttle at 100%. If the dynamic brakes had been properly selected, this would have applied maximum braking. Instead, the locomotive was actually set to full traction power.

As is normal for intra-yard movements, the air brake system for the rest of the train was not connected to the lead locomotive, and thus was not functional. The engineer did set the locomotive's independent brakes, which apply air brakes on only the locomotive, but these were not enough to overcome full engine power. Furthermore, applying the locomotive's brakes disables the train's alerter system, which, had the locomotive's brakes not been applied, would have applied them in addition to shutting down the engine and stopping the train automatically. The engineer, a 35-year veteran with a clean disciplinary record, attempted to reboard the accelerating locomotive, but was unable to do so and was dragged about 80 feet, receiving minor cuts and abrasions.

The locomotive which hauled the runaway train, Diesel-Electric No 8888 owned by the CSX Railroad.

The train consisted of the locomotive number 8888 with 47 freight cars, 22 of which were loaded. Two of the train's tank cars contained thousands of gallons of highly toxic molten phenol. Attempts to derail the train using a portable derailer failed and police fired upon an Emergency Fuel Cutoff, although this had no effect because the button must be pressed for several seconds before the engine is starved of fuel and shuts down.

A northbound freight train was directed onto a siding where the crew uncoupled its locomotive and waited for the runaway train to pass. The locomotive, with a crew of two, an engineer with 31 years of service and a conductor with one year's experience, chased the runaway train and was able to couple onto the rear car. They slowed the train down by applying the dynamic brakes on the chase locomotive. Once the runaway was slowed down to a speed of 11 miles per hour, a company employee ran alongside the train, climbed aboard, and shut down the engine. The train was stopped just southeast of Kenton, Ohio.

Route of the runaway freight train

Route of the runaway freight train, starting just south of Toledo and running 66 miles to Kenton

Film Credits

Directed by Tony Scott Unstoppable poster
Produced by Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, Julie Yorn, Mimi Rogers, Eric McLeod, Alex Young
Written by Mark Bomback
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography Ben Seresin
Editing by Chris Lebenzon, Robert Duffy
Studio Telecinco Cinema
Scott Free Productions
Prospect Park
Millbrook Farm Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date 12 November 2010
Running time 98 minutes

Film Cast

Denzel Washington Frank Barnes, a veteran railroad engineer
Chris Pine Will Colson, a young train conductor
Rosario Dawson Connie Hooper, a train yardmaster
Ethan Suplee Dewey, an engineer who accidentally instigates the disaster
Kevin Dunn Oscar Galvin, vice-president of AWVR train operations
Kevin Corrigan Scott Werner, an FRA inspector
Lew Temple Ned Oldham, a railroad welder
T.J. Miller Gilleece, Dewey's friend
Jessy Schram Darcy Colson, Will's estranged wife
David Warshofsky Judd Stewart, a veteran engineer who dies in an attempt to slow the runaway train
Ryan Ahern Ryan Scott, an employee who attempts unsuccessfully to board the runaway from a helicopter
Meagan Tandy and Elizabeth Mathis Maya and Nicole Barnes, Frank's daughters who work as waitresses at Hooters

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing at the 83rd Academy Awards, honouring the best films of 2010, which took place on 27th February 2011 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Unstoppable was premiered on 26th October 2010 in Westwood, California, and was released in the UK on 24th November 2010.