TOPEKA, KS – Thirty-two rail cars jumped the tracks in a massive Union Pacific train derailment in Topeka, KS on Monday, November 14, 2011.
Topeka is located in Shawnee County, Kansas in the northeastern part of the state about 140 miles northeast of Wichita and about 66 miles west of Overland Park.
The mishap occurred shortly after 11:00 p.m. on Monday when two trains were passing each other just northeast of downtown Topeka on a section of tracks that run along the bank of the Kansas River.
The derailment site was just south of Highway 24 along NE Grantville Rd. near NE Goldwater Rd.
A 142-car eastbound Union Pacific train was on its way from Wyoming and was heading towards East St. Louis with rail cars loaded with coal when it passed a westbound train with 122 cars on a parallel track that came from Kansas City, KS and was on its way to Salina.
A derailment ensued that caused 22 rail cars from the eastbound train plus 10 empty cars from the westbound train to leave the tracks and created a snarl of twisted metal and spilled coal.
The website of the Topeka Capital-Journal carried an article on the incident.
The article recounts the experience of one witness, 61-year-old Michael Chavez, who lives on N.E. Grantville Rd:
Chavez lives on N.E. Grantville Road, which runs parallel to the railroad tracks. His house is just east of the derailment, and Chavez said it felt as if the residence shook for “a good five or six minutes” during the incident.
Fortunately, no railroad workers were injured in the mishap and no one in the area was injured, either. Also, there were no reports of any hazardous materials and no evacuations were ordered.
The cause of the derailment is not known at this time but railroad officials said that the tail end of the eastbound coal train jumped the tracks and hit the westbound train which caused the derailment.
However, this is not an official explanation and the incident is currently under investigation. Investigators were requested to be brought in from Omaha, NE to help identify the cause of the mishap.
The railroad brought in cleanup crews and heavy equipment to clean up the mess and re-rail the tracks. Crews and equipment were brought in from companies based in Kentucky and Texas that specialize in incidents of this type.
About 1200 feet of track had to be replaced. Crews worked quickly to repair the damage. It was reported that the tracks were expected to be reopened by 8:00 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Traffic was re-routed on Grantville Road between Meriden and Goldwater while cleanup and repair efforts were ongoing.
FELA Lawyer News Blog is a FELA, train accident and personal injury blog that publishes up to date train accidents and FELA legal news from across the United States. The Federal Employers ‘Liability Act, (FELA) allows injured railroad workers to recover compensation based on the negligence of the railroad company, in lieu of workers’ compensation. FELA defines negligence as the railroad company’s failure to use reasonable care.