UP spokesman: Tornado warning issued, brakes applied, train blows off tracks

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 ~ Updated 12:08 AM
A Union Pacific train is shown lying next to the tracks at Rockview near Route M on Wednesday. (Laura Simon)

ROCKVIEW, Mo. -- Dozens of rail cars have derailed in Rockview, located between Chaffee and Scott City. A spokesman for Union Pacific said it is believed that last night's winds knocked the train off of its tracks at about the same time that tornado warnings were issued in the area.

A hazardous materials team is on the scene only as a precaution, the spokesman said. The train was hauling automotive parts.

The train was a Union Pacific train, but Burlington Northern Sante Fe was helping with cleanup because it shares the track with UP.

Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific, said the derailment happened at approximately 9:20 p.m. No injuries were reported. The three-locomotive train was headed to Mexico from Chicago hauling 112 rail cars. It was described as an intermodal train which hauls ocean-going containers on flat cars.

The engineer was slowing the train down due to a dispatcher report of tornado warnings in the area when the emergency brakes were engaged.

There is no timeline on the cleanup process or when the track will be reopened. Approximately 800 feet of damaged track that will need to be repaired and replaced. Heavy equipment arrived early Wednesday morning to begin putting the cars back on the track.

A Union Pacific employee, who would not speak on the record because he is not authorized to talk to the media, said 48 cars had derailed.

At least three cranes are on the scene clearing up the wreckage.

The rail cars were piled on one another, off the tracks and pointing in different directions.

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