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Spreading rails caused train wreck

“Wide gauge” is the official cause of the Feb. 15 train derailment in Glenwood Canyon, a Union Pacific spokesman said Friday.

Also, Union Pacific spent $1.6 million on damages and cleanup expenses.

“That’s why we don’t like derailments,” U.P. spokesman Mark Davis said.



In layman’s terms, wide gauge means that the tracks somehow became spread too far apart, forcing the coal train’s wheels to disengage from the track.

“The rail split underneath the train,” Davis said. “The rail literally spread apart wider than the wheels.”



In all, two locomotives and 39 cars ” many carrying full loads of coal ” came off the track.

“The spikes come loose and when a train comes over, the vibrations can cause them to come out,” Davis said.

Union Pacific is self-insured, so all costs related to the accident come out of the company’s bottom line, Davis said.

The 105-car train was coming from a coal mine near Delta and headed to East St. Louis, Ill.

It’s still not known exactly how much coal was spilled. A single car can hold 110 tons of coal and five of the 39 derailed cars tipped completely over on their sides. None, however, completely lost its load of coal.

Coal was spilled along parts of the riverbank, but U.P. officials don’t think it reached the water.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

gmasse@postindependent.com


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