American Railroads

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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wednesday August 23, 2006

Two FEC trains collide, derail

Two slow-moving Florida East Coast Ry. trains collided yesterday in Dania Beach, Fla. Train 141 evidently derailed under I-595 overpass at the Fort Lauderdale yard, Loaded red, open-top FEC hopper cars accordioned into No. 208, and several loaded double-stack cars were turned at a rakish angle, perhaps 45 degrees. The site is near Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

No injuries were reported.

An unofficial source reported Train 208 was passing a stopped Extra 141 when 32 loaded hoppers derailed on 208, running into the side of No. 141.

All mainline tracks are blocked, including the setout tracks on the east and west sides. No information yet on cause.

No heat kinks were reported by the crew.

Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Fire-Rescue sealed off the area with a command post due to hazardous materials on some intermodal containers on the stack train141.Three tracks were blocked.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the incident began shortly after noon on the 600 block of Terminal Drive, near the airport.

Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Hugh Graf told the newspaper all the railroaders on the trains were accounted for.

Some gravel spilled and deputies and railroaders were checking to determine if any of the cargo contains hazardous materials.

“We're still exploring the cause of it,” said Brad Lehan, an FEC vice-president.

“We're hopeful to be back in operation sometime tomorrow,” he said, meaning Wednesday.

A private company reportedly has been called out to the scene to clean up the mess.

Amtrak sends old

coaches to New Orleans

When Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans a year ago, Amtrak’s offers to help evacuate citizens went unheeded, as the last passenger train departed the city nearly empty.

Federal officials are trying to make sure that won’t be repeated if there is a new emergency, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported yesterday.

Under a $700,000 contract, Amtrak has refurbished 24 mothballed coaches and sent them to the New Orleans station, where they are now on standby for the current storm season, said Brian Turmail, a USDOT spokesman. The arrangements are part of an evacuation program financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Turmail said that if a hurricane threatens, FEMA will provide buses to bring evacuees to the trains. The 24 restored cars plus 23 more cars now used for Amtrak’s regular passenger service in the region would be mobilized for the effort, he said. A single train can take as many as 1,600 passengers out of the danger zone.

In addition, USDOT has a contract with Dallas-based Coach America for $33 million to keep 200 buses in the Gulf region “pre-staged” for immediate rescue services. The contract gives the government access to as many as 1,800 more buses if needed. Turmail said the bus costs are greater than the train contract because the buses have been taken out of regular service.

Asked whether residents would be allowed to take their pets - a major issue for many New Orleans residents who refused to leave their homes during Katrina, the USDOT spokesman said that decision will be made by local officials and FEMA.

Sumwalt is NTSB vice-chair

Robert L. Sumwalt was sworn in on Monday as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board and as its vice-chairman. His term of office will run until December 31, 2011. Before coming to the board, he was Manager of Aviation for the SCANA Corp. Sumwalt was a pilot for 24 years with Piedmont Airlines and then US Airways, logging over 14,000 flight hours and earning type ratings in five aircraft before retiring from the airline in 2005. He has no railroad experience.


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