Posted on April 3, 2013 at 6:14 AM
Thursday, Apr 4 at 6:03 AM
AUSTIN -- Capital Metro rail service worked on a limited route Wednesday after a freight train on the tracks derailed overnight, forcing changes to the service.
Capital Metro spokesperson Erica Macioge says six freight cars on the train derailed around 4:30 a.m. It happened on the tracks near East 5th Street and Pedernales Street in East Austin.
The tracks are on the same system used by Capital Metro’s MetroRail service. The block forced Capital Metro to cancel several early morning rides.
“Nine times out of 10 it's not an issue because we run the freight trains really late at night and in the overnight hours, and it doesn't interfere with our MetroRail service. But there are days like today when things happen,” said Macioge.
Buses were dispatched to shuttle rail commuters to their destinations. As of 6:57 a.m. Macioge says service began running from the Leander Station through the MLK Station.
“We have a pretty extensive crisis kind of management plans because our number one thing is we want to get people safely around and people are relying on us to provide them transportation service,” explained Macioge. "We will be using bus service to get people from [the] MLK Station, Plaza Saltillo and downtown back and forth. That will probably continue throughout the day.”
It takes about three buses to transport a full train according to Macioge.
The cause of the derailment is still under investigation. Macioge says Capital Metro owns the track line but a company called Herzog is under contract to maintain the line.
“They will be leading this investigation. They're in charge in terms of putting the service back, getting our passenger service back on track,” said Macioge.
The investigation could take several weeks to complete. Macioge says the train must first be cleared before crews can inspect both the track and the freight cars involved. The engineer will also be interviewed to determine what he saw and what actions he took. Heavy rainfall from Tuesday could be a factor, but Macioge says it’s still unclear if the rain compromised the line.
There were approximately 75 freight cars on the train at the time of the derailment. Capital Metro split the train into two parts to minimize the number of blocked intersections. Intersections remain closed to traffic at Pedernales and East 6th Street. East 6th is expected to reopen by 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Around 5 p.m. crews had re-railed one of the freight cars. They are still working on the other five.
Capital Metro says it will operate MetroRail Thursday as regularly scheduled—full service from Leander to downtown.
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