Derailment leaves two dead, UP track closed
Two workers were killed Thursday when a track maintenance train derailed on a Union Pacific line in Baxter, Calif., according to the Associated Press.
Cleanup crews worked to clear the wreckage and replace a 600-foot section of track. The Union Pacific hoped to restore full service during the weekend on the east-west line that runs near Sacramento.
The maintenance train is owned by Harsco Track Technologies. The train was transporting a grinding machine used to smooth out worn sections of track.
Investigators believe the train’s brakes failed as it descended down a steep mountain pass and derailed when it hit a curve at twice the recommended speed, spilling thousands of gallons of fuel that sparked a fire in the thickly forested area. Eight other crew members suffered minor injuries. The conductor of the train was a UP employee.
Derailments in the railroad industry were down 13.6 percent during the first six months of the year, according to preliminary figures from the Federal Railroad Administration. Despite safety improvements, the accident highlights that railroad work continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations.