WYANET — The investigation continues into a train derailment Saturday night on the trestle bridge located on 1500 East Street on the east edge of Wyanet.
On Monday morning, Steve Forsberg, general director of public affairs for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, said the derailment happened at 8 p.m. Saturday. The 92-car freight train was traveling eastbound from Galesburg to Chicago when the train went into an emergency breaking situation. Train crews notified BNSF network operations officials the train had gone into the emergency stopping situation.
BNSF crews and other contracted crews arrived Saturday night at the site and have been working in shifts around the clock since then to get the cars removed, the rails repaired and the clean-up completed, Forsberg said.
For at least a portion of Saturday night, the two railroad crossings in Wyanet, on Locust and Main streets, were closed to traffic because of the stopped train.
Early in the day on Monday, Forsberg said the Main Track 1 of the railway was expected to be open by 5 p.m. Monday. Main Track 2, on which the derailed train was traveling, was expected to be open by 7 p.m. Monday, he said.
In discussing the incident, Forsberg said 19 of the 92 rail cars on the freight train were actually involved in the derailment, with 15 of those 19 cars remaining upright. BNSF designates a car as derailed if at least one set of wheels is off the track. Most of the 15 upright cars had all their wheels off the rail, Forsberg said.
The remaining four derailed cars were not upright, Forsberg said. Three cars went off the tracks, down the hillside and into the creek. One car went off the rails and came to rest vertically on the creek bank.
Most of the cars were empty, Forsberg said. The only loaded derailed car was filled with plastic pellets.
As far as removing the overturned cars, Forsberg said it depends on the extent of damage to the cars as to whether they would be lifted back onto the rails or cut up and hauled away.
For at least a portion of Sunday, a crane cabled one end of the vertically standing derailed car, while other heavy equipment was positioned on the rail as crews apparently assessed removal options. Throughout Sunday morning and afternoon, cars of spectators stopped along the Route 6/34 hillside to watch the crews at work.
On Monday morning, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said the sheriff’s department was not called to handle any of the traffic or other issues concerning the train derailment. The BNSF had its own police department handling the incident.
As the clean-up work continues and is completed, Thompson said the sheriff’s department will make sure any private properties damaged at the site are restored.
On Monday, Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari said several hundred Amtrak passengers were affected by the weekend derailment in Wyanet. Amtrak passengers coming from the West Coast were detoured around the derailment site. Passengers traveling east from Quincy and Macomb got as far as Galesburg where they were put on waiting chartered motorcoaches, which then completed the Amtrak routes.
The motorcoaches and detours were in place both Saturday and Sunday, and Amtrak is prepared to run the motorcoaches and detours again today, Tuesday, if the tracks aren’t yet opened, Magliari said.
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