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  1. #1
    Temporarily/No Longer Active dfdex1's Avatar
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    Arrow Railroad purposly derails freight train to avoid disaster

    COMMERCE, Calif. (June 20) - A line of train cars broke loose in a switching yard and rolled more than 30 miles before workers derailed them to avoid a potential disaster in Los Angeles, launching tons of lumber onto trackside homes but causing only a handful of injuries.

    Railroad workers diverted the 31 cars onto a side track at noon after they had raced nearly 30 miles at speeds sometimes topping 70 mph. At least 11 derailed, unleashing a blizzard of wood, newsprint and fiberboard that destroyed two homes and damaged two others.

    ''That was the last chance we felt we had to derail them before they went into downtown Los Angeles,'' Union Pacific Railroad spokesman John Bromley said.

    Firefighters sent three children and three adults to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries. Seven other people were treated for minor injuries at the scene, authorities said.

    The train cars were derailed in the largely industrial community about 30 minutes after they got loose at a switching yard in Montclair and began rolling downhill.

    ''We saw the train demolishing and splintering the house. You saw the power lines going down, the sparks. I was in shock,'' said Jason Mendez, 34.

    ''It sounded like a plane crash combined with an earthquake,'' he said.

    Firefighters and dogs searched huge piles of debris and news helicopters were asked to back off to allow the use of listening equipment. But no one was believed to be missing.

    ''It's very amazing,'' said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman. ''What if this happened in the middle of the night with everybody sleeping?''

    Many residents of the neighborhood - filled with single-family houses with small yards and front porches - were at work at the time.

    Some witnesses stood outside the debris crying. Others watched in silence as rescue workers combed the wreckage.

    Luis Carlos Vasquez Jr., 31, was raking in the back yard of one of the homes hit by flying wreckage when he heard the train.

    ''The sound wasn't right. When I turned around, rocks are flying, there are two box cars in the air.''

    He said he rushed inside the house to rescue his sister, who had taken refuge in a closet.

    ''A pair of wheels fell in front of me. The ceiling was coming down. Debris all over the place. I got my sister and carried her out.''

    The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators, spokesman Paul Schlamm said from Washington, D.C.

    It was initially believed that efforts to sidetrack the runaway cars had failed. Bromley later said that railroad employees had ruled out other side tracks along the route because of the risks to property.

    ''It came down to this was the last spot where we could do it,'' Bromley said.

    At such speed, diverting the cars onto the side track caused them to derail.

    The switching yard in Montclair is about 27 miles east of Commerce. No railroad employees were reported injured.


  2. #2
    Forum Member Engine101's Avatar
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    Default Re: Railroad purposly derails freight train to avoid disaster

    Originally posted by dfdex1


    It was initially believed that efforts to sidetrack the runaway cars had failed. Bromley later said that railroad employees had ruled out other side tracks along the route because of the risks to property.

    ''It came down to this was the last spot where we could do it,'' Bromley said..
    Guess they didn't care about the risk to lives by derailing it where they did
    Amazing no one was killed

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Wow, that's a pretty unnerving story.

    Having grown up in a rail town with all of my family working for the CN, I am shocked that there were no controls in the yard to keep the cars from accessing the main line. Most large switching yards are automated to allow the control room to remotely close sidings if they detect trouble.

    Also, thirty rail cars don't just tear off down the track, this whole process would take a significant amount of time to occur. The yard engine should have been able to catch up to them before they got too far.

    Very strange circumstances indeed.
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    I can see a lawsuit coming on here...

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    Forum Member RyanEMVFD's Avatar
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    i saw some pictures of the wreckage scene in the newspaper yesterday and I couldn't believe that there was actually large pieces of lumber laying on rooftops of houses. I wonder how fast it was going at the time of derailment. I read that no one knew of the derailment before hand, no police, no fire, no EMS.
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    yeah those pictures on the news amazing no one was killed. all those houses were just splinters

  7. #7
    Truckie SPFDRum's Avatar
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    ''That was the last chance we felt we had to derail them before they went into downtown Los Angeles,'' Union Pacific Railroad spokesman John Bromley said.
    Is it just me, or do other feel it's hard to believe an "out of control" train just sneaks up on you?
    If it's true that they didn't bother to inform public safety officials, I hope they are hung to dry.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member SFDAJL52's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SPFDRum
    Is it just me, or do other feel it's hard to believe an "out of control" train just sneaks up on you?
    If it's true that they didn't bother to inform public safety officials, I hope they are hung to dry.

    one or two cars, is a slight possibility, though it was more frequent in 1903, not 2003...

    But 31 cars, just to simply roll out of a yard... Someone F'ed up big time...

  9. #9
    Temporarily/No Longer Active dfdex1's Avatar
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    COMMERCE, Calif. -- People whose homes were deluged in tons of flying debris when a freight train jumped the tracks cheered loudly at a meeting where City Council members challenged railroad officials to explain why they weren't warned that the runaway cars were coming.

    Union Pacific representatives apologized and promised a "very deep review" of their emergency procedures at the town hall meeting Thursday night with residents of this Los Angeles suburb where the 28 runaway freight cars spilled off the tracks last week and damaged or destroyed several homes.

    Several hundred residents also gave standing ovations to emergency crews who responded to the crash.

    The cars, which had rolled out of a switching yard in Montclair, traveled 30 miles before derailing. Council member Ray Cisneros called the company's failure to give the city advance warning "blatant disregard for the citizens of Commerce."

    "It seems to me that Commerce was made a sacrificial lamb," he said of the derailment that demolished two homes, heavily damaged six others and hurt 13 people.

    Jeff Verhaal, Western regional vice president for Union Pacific, told the crowd: "On behalf of Union Pacific and all of the employees, I'd like to apologize for the accident and take full responsibility for what happened."

    Verhaal said the company's priority upon learning of the runaway cars was to find a safe place "where we could bring the train to a stop." He promised to improve the company's notification system.

    The meeting came a day after the National Transportation Safety Board announced Union Pacific had no plan in place to deal with runaway rail cars.

    Some residents said they were amazed at the lack of emergency plans.

    "Such a big company and you don't have a rule for runaway trains?" asked Javier Vasquez. He criticized Union Pacific for its slow offer of counseling assistance to victims and delays in getting debris picked up.

    Railroad officials told residents they had no choice but to sidetrack the cars in Commerce, adding that they hoped they would derail onto railroad property and not the residential neighborhood.

    Company spokeswoman Kathryn Blackwell said dispatchers believed there were only 10 runaway cars and there was a chance they could stop the train on a side track without derailment.

    But she acknowledged that the dispatchers knew a derailment was likely.

    "We have very deep review to do of our emergency response. We have begun to do that," said Ted Lewis, general superintendent of operations for the Los Angeles area. (AP)

  10. #10
    Forum Member Engine101's Avatar
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    One thing is for sure when the final facts about this are revelaed there going to be a few union pacfic employee's looking through the classifieds

  11. #11
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    From an article I read on the incident,the engine crew tried to get permission to chase or "lasso" the errant cars before they left the yard.This communication either became lost or denied,I believe it was the latter which in turn brought out the later derailment.I doubt this is the last you'll see on the subject.T.C.

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