KEARNEY, NE – Two Union Pacific (UP) trains passing each other on different lines collided and derailed on September 8, 2010 at about 8:00 p.m. in Kearney, Nebraska. The two trains were going in opposite directions on adjacent tracks at the time.
Kearney is in Kearney County, Nebraska in the south central part of the state about 13.5 miles southwest of Gibbon and 42 miles southwest of Grand Island.
The derailment occurred on the three-track mainline that runs between Kearney and Gibbon near Ravenna Rd. and Highway 30.
One of the trains was traveling eastbound with 105 cars and the other train was traveling westbound with 126 cars.
The eastbound train was fully loaded, hauling coal from Wyoming to Kansas City. The westbound coal train was empty and was traveling from Kansas City to Wyoming.
A total of 58 rail cars derailed in the mishap. There were 18 empty rail cars from the westbound coal train and 40 of the coal-laden eastbound cars that derailed, spilling their load of coal in the process.
Union Pacific was working to clear the cars and the coal as soon as possible. Each rail car holds up to 100 tons of coal. A spokesman from the company said that it would take anywhere from 10 days to two weeks to clear the coal.
Fortunately, no injuries were reported at the time of the mishap.
A total of 2,600 feet of track was damaged in the derailment leaving some of the rail cars stacked two high on top of each other. All three of the main-line tracks were damaged as a result of the derailment.
Officials believe that one of the trains jumped the tracks and slammed into the train going in the opposite direction causing the trains to derail.
The derailment caused traffic delays on nearby Highway 30 and Highway 10.
The damaged tracks that were involved in the derailment are part of UP’s main line “overland route” that runs across central Nebraska.
Some progress on the cleanup had been made by Thursday morning around 4:30 a.m. By then, 16 of the 18 empty cars were removed and 12 of the full cars from the other train had been moved out of the way.
Below is a Google street view of the tracks at Highway 30 and Ravenna Rd. where the derailment occurred. You can click the mouse and drag it around to get a full 360° view of the surrounding area.
The tracks were closed for most of Thursday but by late afternoon, one of the 3 tracks were reopened, taking about 300 feet of new track to open it. Officials had already replaced about 400 feet of track on the second track and estimated that it would be reopened by about 8:00 p.m. Thursday evening. By late afternoon, they had already replaced about 1900 feet on the third track. It was reopened by early Friday, September 10.
The cause of the derailment remains under investigation.
Published by FELA lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP