16 user 1 critic

Disaster on the Coastliner (1979)

A vengeful employee of a computer-controlled railway arranges a head-on collision of passenger trains. Can it be stopped?


(as Richard Sarafian)



Watch Now

From $4.99 (SD) on Amazon Video



Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Mitchell
Estes Hill
Matt Leigh
John Marsh
Roy Snyder
Paula Harvey
Stuart Peters
Jim Waterman / Victor Prescott
Southbound Conductor
Northbound Conductor
Jacque Lynn Colton ...
Mrs. Shanks
John Carlson

Comic-Con 2017: All Aboard the IMDboat


July 20 to 23, 2017

Get entertainment news, trailer drops, and photos with IMDb's coverage of 2017 San Diego Comic-Con featuring host and IMDboat captain Kevin Smith. Watch our exclusive celebrity interviews, and tune in to our LIVE show from 3:30 to 5 p.m. PDT on Saturday, July 22.

Browse Our Guide to Comic-Con



Victor Prescott, who's real name is Jim Waterman, modifies the computer controlling the railroad track (signals, switches, alarms) between San Francisco and Los Angeles in such a way that two trains are heading towards each other on the same track without anyone being able to prevent the disaster. He wants the railroad company to confess that there was criminal negligence involved in an accident some years before during which a derail caused several fatalities - including Waterman's wife and kids. Written by Alto Speckhardt <Alto.Speckhardt@student.uni-ulm.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama





Release Date:

29 October 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Weiche steht auf Tod  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the filming of the closeup shots of William Shatner on the outside of the train, the wind machine had to be turned down several times because it would constantly blow off his toupee. See more »


The trains are supposed to be owned by a fictional railroad. However, the name "Amtrak" is visible on all the trains. See more »


Referenced in The Captains (2011) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Very Dumb but Entertaining
27 April 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Disaster on the Coastliner (1979)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Lloyd Bridges, Raymond Burr, William Shatner, Pat Hingle, E.G. Marshall, Robert Fuller and Paul L. Smith headline this made-for-TV disaster pic that contains some good suspense even though the actual story is perhaps the dumbest of the genre. A man (Smith) wants to prove that a derailment six years earlier was covered up so he hijacks a train, rigs all the computer controls and is prepared to crash the train into another one that just happens to be carrying the Vice President's wife. I love disaster films and anyone who does will probably want to check this thing out, although there's no question that the actual story might be the dumbest I've ever seen. Now, I'll admit that I'm no railroad expert but the bad guy had way too easy of a time getting his plan carried out and it seems like the good guys had way too much trouble trying to stop the train. We get a few reasons as to why they can't stop the train but these here are just incredibly silly and quite often had me laughing pretty hard. One of the stories is that the bad guy is communicating with the other engineer and tells him that terrorists are trying to take the train over. There are other small gimmicks that the bad guy uses to try and pull this off and they're just as silly. Half-way through the picture we get the reason that the bad guy is doing all this stuff and the film tries to make us feel sorry for him but this little plot point didn't work even though Smith gives the best performance in the film. Shatner gets to play a bad guy with a heart of gold. Burr pretty much just stays seated but he's at least entertaining. Bridges is a real hoot playing a government guy at the trains main station and seeing him pull out of gun twice in the film will give you a guaranteed laugh. As silly as many of the plot points are, there's no question that the movie also has some very tense moments. The entire lead-up to the disaster are very well directed and I thought the final fifteen-minutes were extremely tense. It's a real shame that a lot of these tense moments as well as some nice action pieces are letdown due to a rather weak screenplay. With that said, if you enjoy these made-for-TV movies then you might as well check this one out.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: