On December 18, 2017 an Amtrak train making its first run along a faster new route hurtled off an overpass south of Seattle into rush hour traffic below, killing three people and injuring more than 100 others. The train, travelling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone did not have Positive Train Control -- technology that automatically slows down and stops a speeding train -- activated.

But what happened in Washington was far from unique. Derailments, head-on collisions, and accidents at road crossings involving freight and passenger trains claim many lives each year across North America. Often, the cause is human error combined with high speed.

Why Trains Crash examines the cause of recent deadly rail accidents, using detailed computerized re-enactments and emotional eyewitness accounts. At the same time, the film highlights the difficult work by investigators and safety experts seeking answers and determined to prevent future tragedies.

What’s at stake is a global mode of transportation poised for huge advancements. With examples like Japan’s super efficient bullet trains, the film looks ahead to a future in which train travel everywhere is fast, efficient and — above all else — safe.​

Credits (Click to expand)

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY Larry Klein

TELESCRIPT BY Larry Klein

STORY BY Larry Klein and Michael Bicks

Edited by Sam Green

Camera

Jason Longo

Tom Kaufman

Peter Bonilla

Gary Henoch

DRONE CAMERA

JJ Trinidad

Julien Gramigna

Jean- François Vermette

Andrew Aronsohn

NARRATED BY

Jay O. Sanders

Associate Producer

Sara Crosby

LOCATION COORDINATOR – JAPAN  

Fumiyo Asahi

LOCATION COORDINATOR – LOS ANGELES        

Diane Toomey

LOCATION COORDINATOR – CANADA       

Lynn Herzog

Sound Recordists

Sam Kashefi

Michael Boyle

Marla Hettinger

Pablo Villegas

Music

APM Music

Animation

Doug Quade

Online Editor AND COLORIST

David Bigelow

ART DIRECTION AND SET DESIGN

Katha Seidman

Audio Mix

Heart Punch Studio

Archival Material

ABC NEWS VideoSource

Yameen Allword

AP Images

AP Archive

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Courtesy CNN

Getty Images

Matt Ignosski

ITN Source

KiwiRail

Pierre LeBeau, Lac Megantic images

NBCUniversal Archives

Polaris

POND5

Janelle Richards

Shutterstock

Alan John Smith

Studio Noe

Texas Central

ViralHog

Special Thanks

Anna Bolster

Bowie Train Depot and Museum

Ed Greenberg

Scott Johnson

City of Lac Megantic, Quebec

Pierre LeBeau

Matthew Lehner

Julie Leroux

Carla Showell-Lee

Tosihiro Watanabe

Eric Weiss

NOVA Series Graphics

yU + co.

NOVA Theme Music

Walter Werzowa

John Luker

Musikvergnuegen, Inc.

Additional NOVA Theme Music

Ray Loring

Rob Morsberger

Closed Captioning The Caption Center

POST PRODUCTION ONLINE EDITOR

Spencer Gentry

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Jennifer Welsh

PUBLICITY

Eileen Campion

Eddie Ward

RESEARCH

Diane Toomey

Ana Aceves

SENIOR SCIENCE RESEARCHER

Caitlin Saks

NOVA ADMINISTRATOR

Anne Barleon

Production Coordinator

Linda Callahan

DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL AUDIENCE RESEARCH

Cory Allen

PARALEGAL

Sarah Erlandson

TALENT RELATIONS

Janice Flood

Legal Counsel

Susan Rosen

Digital MANAGING PRODUCER

Kristine Allington

SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR

Tim De Chant

Director of DIGITAL Media

Lauren Aguirre

RIGHTS MANAGER

Lauren Miller

POST PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

Brittany Flynn

SUPERVISING PRODUCER

Kevin Young

Post Production Editor

Michael H. Amundson

BROADCAST MANAGER

Nathan Gunner

BUSINESS MANAGER

Ariam McCrary

DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER

David Condon

PROJECT DIRECTOR

Pamela Rosenstein

Coordinating Producer

Elizabeth Benjes

Senior Science Editor

Evan Hadingham

SENIOR PRODUCER

Chris Schmidt

Senior Series Producer

Melanie Wallace

DIRECTOR, BUSINESS OPERATIONS & FINANCE

Laurie Cahalane

DEPUTY EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Julia Cort

SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Paula S. Apsell

A NOVA Production by Lawrence Klein Productions, LLC for WGBH Boston.

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