Observe the trees in the background of the film. It was shot over the course of September to November hence, there are scenes with green trees, fall colors, no leaves, then green leaves, then no leaves.
The sounds have been dubbed for Ned's truck (red F-350 Ford dually). The truck is dubbed with general "v-8" sounds, however, Ford very seldom offers a v-8 engine with their newer dually trucks, it's almost always going to be a v-10 gas or diesel engine. Furthermore, the camera quickly shows the rear axle of the truck, which is a Dana 80; This axle is only supplied with Ford trucks equipped with the diesel engine.
As Dewey is preparing to move 777 from D-16 to D-10 at Fuller yard near the beginning of the film, the sound of 777 starting up is from an EMD 645-E3, a two-stroke diesel engine found in a number of EMD locomotives, most notably the SD40 (locos like 1206). 777 is an AC4400CW built by EMD's rival GE and uses the GE 7FDL-16, a four-stroke diesel engine which make a completely different noise.
When going over the bridge with the single locomotive (#1206), four distinct clanks can be heard when the locomotive runs over the joints in the rail. The locomotive has six axles, so six clanks should be heard. It may be because the sound was from a four axle locomotive that was dubbed in later.
When Galvin sees on the news that 777 is on a collision course with another train, the audio track has Galvin saying "We gotta learn about it on damn TV." However, looking at the visual, he is clearly using the full expletive "goddamn".
As 1206 gets closer to 777, one of the Fox 43 chyron graphics misspells Stanton as "Stanon". This may have been done on purpose, as TV stations often insert typos during fast-breaking news events, and then fix them.
Right after the company discovers 777 is under power a pacing shot shows the 777 with damaged front handrails, even though it has not yet hit anything. Moments later when it is about to collide with the horse trailer, a shot shows its handrails are intact.
After Frank is stopped from jumping the large gap to the flatbed with the large pipes on it, he returns to the tank car (the barrel-shaped car that holds the chemicals). Later, as Will is riding in the back of Ned's truck, they drive alongside Frank. After Frank waves them on, the car directly in front of him has changed from the flatbed to another tank car.
When 777 crashes into the horse trailer, the left ditch light on the engine (from the crew's perspective) goes out. Throughout the rest of the film, the left ditch light is lit and the right one is out.
In the scene where Dewey and Gilleece are attempting to catch 777 in the AWVR truck, immediately after the truck's passenger door is torn off by the signal there is a shot of the truck paralleling 777. In this shot, both of 777's ditch lights are off while in the previous and following scenes they are on.
When Dewey and Gilleece are loafing in the yard eating lunch, they have no train approaching on the adjacent track. Then the yardmaster orders them to move the red GE locomotives. In the next shot, there is a train with a blue locomotive approaching them on the adjacent track, but in the next shot of them from overhead, there is no train on that track again.
When Will kicks the coupler cut bar to couple the locomotive, he manages to couple the locomotive to the grain hopper car, but did not hook up the air hose for the brake line. In some exterior shots and in the shot when Frank goes to turn the hand brake wheel, the air hose is attached.
Conductor side of 777 shows ditch light & handrail damage after hitting horse trailer. Handrail was completely bent from steps toward center. Final scene shows no damage to handrails as character grabs on and climb steps.
During the press conference, we see the police vehicle arrive with Connie. Then when a camera close-up focuses on Frank and Will, she can briefly be seen jogging towards them. Then, we see Connie exit the police vehicle.
When Ned asks for a police escort, an officer takes his work ID badge. After Ned mentions Connie, the camera angle changes and the ID is no longer in that officer's hand, though we never see him return it to Ned or Ned take it back.
Connie sends Ned to set the switch so 777 will go into a siding near the diner he is visiting. After the hi-rail comes along, he calls Connie and tells her he set that switch six minutes ago. However, he never re-aligns the switch. Yet the hi-rail stays on the mainline when it leaves. (You can also see the siding is not aligned if you look at the track as Ned is pacing and waiting.)
As Frank is running along the top of the train near the end of the movie, we see Connie clutching her cellphone as she watches the news. However, when Ned arrives alongside the train, she picks up the phone to call him. He hangs up on her and she is then clutching the phone anxiously as she continues watching the news coverage.
When the hi-rail comes at Ned as he is waiting for the train, Ned takes out his cell-phone and dials Connie. The hi-rail arrives and the three men are arguing. The camera angle changes when Ned says "Do I look like I have a train hidden in my back pocket?" There is no phone in Ned's hands at all. When the camera angle returns to the original, the phone is again in Ned's hand and he begins to speak to Connie.
As the train approaches the disabled horse trailer, a view inside the trailer shows the trailer parallel to, and on top of, the rails. The shot of the train hitting trailer clearly has the trailer angled across the tracks before the train hits it.
The horse driver leads the horse to safety in the nick of time as 777 slams into the trailer. In the wide shot shown on the news (shot from the same side of the crossing) there is no horse and no driver, just an empty trailer waiting to be struck by the train. There is also no dump truck, the one that caused the trailer to get stuck on the tracks in the first place.
The placement of the truck and trailer in the television wide shot is different from the earlier ground shot. The wide angle view as the trailer and truck in the middle of the crossing, where as the previous scene of the live collision had the trailer and truck on the far side of the crossing relative to the train's location.
Near the beginning of the film, when Will meets Frank for the first time, Will picks up his bag and takes his profile pages back from Frank. In the next shot, he takes the paper back from Frank and picks up his bag again.
In the first attempt to stop 777, as 777 moves into the curve where the Lash-up is waiting to slow it down, the front shot shows the slower moving locomotives driven by Judd Stewart, with 777 fast approaching. As the shot pans to behind the locomotive of 777, the lash-up is not seen.
Near the ending of the movie, when Will contacts Frank, and Frank says that they got a problem, some shots after, will we see the full train and a news-chopper flying over, if you look carefully at the rear end of the freight train, there is no sight of 1206.
No one in PA would refer to a part of the state as "Northern Pennsylvania" or "Southern Pennsylvania". Since PA is much wider east-west than it is north-south, regions are referred to such as "Southeastern PA", South-Central PA", or "Northwestern PA".
The electronic map shows Olean, Portville and Horsehead in Northern Pennsylvania. These are Southern Tier New York towns just above the Pennsylvania border. Horsehead is actually Horseheads, NY near Elmira, NY.
During the first news broadcast, we are shown a map of the main track. This is a real map of PA counties in central PA. The top one is Lycoming, the smallest one in the center is Montour and Northumberland and Columbia are to the left and right, respectively to it. However, in the second broadcast, Clinton and Cameron are the major ones shown. They are in fact to the north and west to Northumberland. If the "coaster" is traveling south, the train would be near Berks instead of farther north.
The TV news graphics state that the film's fictional town of Stanton, Pennsylvania, has a population of 752,000. This would make it among the 20 largest cities in the United States - larger than cities like Baltimore and Boston. Yet it is shown as being a fairly small town, likely with one-tenth such population.
The city of Stanton is depicted as having a population of 752,000. Philadelphia is the only city in PA with a population even remotely that large (approx 1.5 million). By comparison, the second most populous city in PA (Pittsburgh) has a population of only 311,000, and "Stanton" as depicted is vastly smaller than Pittsburgh, which can be seen out the window of Oscar Galvin's office.
Attempts were made to mask the reporting marks of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway, where most of the movie was filmed. However, locomotives sporting the "Wheeling & Lake Erie" name are visible in at least two scenes. The first is in the background in the turntable scene in Brewster, Ohio, and the other is behind Dewey and Gilleece as they are entering the yard office to tell Connie the bad news about 777.
In the yard scene when 777 accelerates from idle to notch 8 throttle, this is impossible due to the design of the throttle lever. Locomotive throttle levers are notched, and require significant force to move.
After the 777 barely makes it through the curve at the maximum 30 mph speed, the media shortly thereafter claims it quickly accelerates to speeds "in excess of 75 mph." It would be an impossible feat for that train to accelerate that fast.
The vehicles depicted as Pennsylvania State Police, were not only incorrect of the color, but of the light bar as well. Actual PSP cars are white Ford Crown Victorias with red, white, and blue Vector or Vision light bars, as seen on the Sheriff's cars. PSP Troopers also do not wear badges on their uniforms.
When Frank tells Will to "hit the independent", Will grabs the Automatic Brake handle, not the Independent handle. Making an Automatic brake application will still cause the independent to apply though, albeit at a slower and less controlled rate than making such a brake application with the Independent handle.
The film greatly exaggerates the possible damage the molten phenol would cause in a fire. This would be true in a regular fire - that is, if the phenol is spilled immediately and begins burning on the ground. However, if one or more cars did not rupture sufficiently to freely spill its load, and a fire started around them a BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour) type explosion might result, as the liquid inside the car boils, finally developing enough pressure to split the car and spray a cloud of combustible vapour into the fire. In a 1969 BLEVE event in Laurel Mississippi, involving tank cars of liquefied propane, one of the tank cars was thrown 1000 feet into the air, wheelsets from one car landed 1/4 mile away.
There are numerous Deputy Sheriffs depicted in the film (along with the PA State Police) as being a typical patrol-style law enforcement agency. Sheriffs in PA are mostly tasked with civil duties such as serving civil records notices, courthouse security, prisoner transport, and serving warrants. A very small minority of counties, mostly urban high-crime areas, have patrol divisions, which perform the same duties as a municipal officer, but the vast majority of the rural counties (like those depicted in the film) do not.
Several references are made to the locomotives being limited in what they can do due to the unit moving in reverse. The electric drive motors they use do not have a concept of forward or reverse like the common car does. The engine works just the same in either direction. The locomotives in this film are equipped to operate short hood first in normal operation. (Some railroads normally operate their hood units long hood first.) The problem with running in reverse at high speeds isn't so much with the locomotive's capabilities, but with the fact that the cab and controls are set up for operation in the other direction, and that the view toward the rear (past the long hood) may not be as good as that in one designed to operate short hood first, meaning that the engineer may not see obstacles or emergency circumstances ahead in time - or at all.. It would be similar to driving a car at fifty miles per hour in reverse, looking over your shoulder, with a large package in the back seat blocking the center third of the view behind (in front of) the car.
Engine #1206 is instructed to take the nearest siding upon hearing the news of the oncoming train. The crew (Frank) does the math and determines that they will not fit into that siding. He states the siding as being 4011 feet between signals, with about 2500 feet of actual usable space (I'm assuming they mean between crossings). Engine #1206 with 25 cars would only equal about 1580 feet, giving them more than enough room to clear in the first available siding. The average length of a railroad car is 60 feet. Even if the cars were considered "long", 25 total cars would have fit into that siding.
Portable derails are used and the description of the process by which they work is technically accurate but they were not installed correctly. The "lifting" mechanism should be on the inside of the rail (where the flange of the wheel is), not on the outside as shown in the movie.
When Dewey and Gilleece are pursuing the 777 in the highrailer and attempting to board from the siding, the door of the highrailer is ripped off by a wayside signal with a bell. Wayside signals do not have bells; only signals at grade crossings.
It's unlikely that the fictional AWVR would freely disseminate information such as employees' names and images and the cause of the runaway to the media. In the real instance which inspired the film, the cause of the runaway was not disclosed until months later when the National Transportation Safety Board released its report, and CSX never made public the name of the engineer whose error let the train slip, nor what disciplinary action it took.
Standard "Protection From Abuse" orders in Pennsylvania typically include specific prohibitions against all contact, including via telephone. Will's repeated phone calls would likely result in an arrest for violating the order.
A respondent in a hearing in a domestic relations case of the type depicted in the film (particularly one involving a protection order) must appear in person under Pennsylvania law, not merely by proxy through an attorney. A failure to appear would most likely result in either a default judgment and permanent order, or a contempt of court citation.
In the TV interview just after the state police try to shoot out the fuel stop safety switch the trooper being interviewed does not have the chin strap on his hat on his chin. In reality all members of the Pennsylvania State Police must have the strap on their chin while outside.
Whenever anyone attempted to board 777, the only effort was always at the very front of the locomotive. While there is an entry door in the front, crew can also board the locomotive from the rear step and walk towards the front on the right side to the cab.
The majority of the railroad crossings seen in the movie do not have bells ringing on them, a requirement on all grade crossings equipped with flashing lights. Although some crossings with gates silence the bells once the gates have completely lowered, crossings shown without gates are still silent, and must still have the bells ringing the entire time the lights are flashing.
Through several crossings we heard a train's air horns. One train was not manned and we saw close-ups of the actors in the other - no-one was on the horns. This is not necessarily incorrect - in some areas designated "quiet zones" by the DOT, trains are not required to blow their horns in the same manner as ordinary crossings unless the engineer thinks there may be a need; some of these zones have "wayside horns" mounted at the crossing that automatically trigger as the train approaches.
When the 777 train goes around the curve in Stanton the pipes fall off the train but later it appears that they are back on the train when Frank tries to climb over the cars to reach the engine. Actually, there are two flatbed cars with these pipes on that train. They can both clearly be seen in several scenes throughout the movie.
On some of the shots, the crossing gate arms are shown as just coming down as the 777 engine is passing. In normal operation, the crossing gates would be all the way down well before the first engine passes. However, this train was traveling in excess of 70mph. If the crossings were not equipped with newer 'Constant Warning Time' detection circuitry (which gives 15 seconds of warning time at the crossing regardless of train speed), then the signal/gate circuit is designed to activate by distance based on the line's posted speed limit. If the crossings are set to give 15 seconds warning where the limit is 25mph, then at 70+mph it is entirely possible for the locomotive to reach the crossing 5 seconds after the crossing is activated (at which point the gates would still be descending).
The brakes on railroad trains require air pressure to hold them OFF, not to apply stopping force. The premise of the movie is that the consist was "bottled" in the yard; that is to say the valves on both end cars are closed to hold pressure in the brake pipe. When Frank and Will catch 777 they would certainly know that activating all the brakes is a simple matter of opening the last angle cock; the train line would bleed instantly and engage all of the car brakes.
When 1206 is running Light across the Stanton Curve Viaduct on its way to the Zinc plant the first helicopter flyby shows the rear number boards are black with no lettering, moments later on another flyby, the numbers 1206 are back.
Although the runaway train is stated to be a half mile long, the visual length of the train changes throughout the film. At some points it appears to be not much longer than 100 meters (this is especially noticeable just after it misses Frank and Will's train).
Not long after Colson gains control of the 777, there is a three-quarter view of the train in which the 1206 is visible on the tail end. This should be impossible from that close an angle if the train is a half-mile long, as described earlier.
When Will is on the back platform of 1206 right after it coupled to the runaway, in one shot it can be clearly seen he is in fact standing on a Prop locomotive's rear platform being pushed by a hi-rail truck.
While Judd Stewart attempts to bring his locomotive/ engine onto the Main Line (777 is just approaching behind), at least 2 crew members are visible (as silhouette) at the rear windows of Judd's vehicle (on either side in two different shots - a person on the rear-left window from the aerial shot of the scene; a person on the rear-right window from the frontal shot of the scene).
No matter how violent the crash, diesel fuel tanks do not explode in huge fireballs; the air/vapor mixture inside a diesel fuel tank is too "lean" (too little fuel in proportion to air) to burn inside the tank, much less explode.
They attempt to lower a man from a helicopter onto the lead locomotive. Just as he reaches it the train is decelerated by 2 lash-up locos. He flies back into the second loco's windshield as if the train had suddenly accelerated. Since he was traveling at a steady speed relative to the train he should have gone forward.
When Will finally stops the train he gets a missed call from Darcy, his wife: Her picture on the phone corresponds to a close-up of the very same Darcy later on, during the open press conference at the end of the movie.
When the train hits the derailers at Arklow, you can clearly see the theatrical explosive charges that propel the derailers away from the track (intended to make it look like they broke away violently). The train only hits the first of four. The other three detonate before the train passes over them.