Preliminary findings show that broken rails caused the deadly Colorado train derailment that led to the bridge collapse

Preliminary findings show that broken rails caused the deadly Colorado train derailment that led to the bridge collapse

Caused by a broken rail Train derailment The accident caused a bridge over an interstate highway in Colorado to collapse, killing a truck driver and closing the road for several days, federal authorities said Tuesday based on their preliminary findings.

The National Transportation Safety Board said investigators are examining how the tracks became damaged and why warning systems did not alert crews to the track’s condition. An agency spokesman said officials had no reason to believe sabotage was the cause of the train derailment.

The steel bridge was built in 1958 It collapsed on Sunday when 30 cars of a BNSF Railroad train hauling coal derailed as it crossed Interstate 25. The main north-south highway through Colorado is expected to remain closed for several more days, and hundreds of tons of coal and mangled rail cars must be removed from the road. By Wednesday afternoon, officials said. Next, the crew will assess the damage.

The driver of the semi-trailer truck who was killed while passing under the bridge has been identified as Lafollette Henderson, 60, of Compton, California. His daughter, Indaya Jenelle, said he had six children and 15 grandchildren.

Every week, Henderson sends a toy car to Jenelle’s 16-month-old son from all over the country, she said. Some of the mail has not been opened and she plans to save it until her son is older. She gave birth to a baby boy last week and his grandfather has never met him.

“I will never take another call from him while he’s on the road! Talking for hours on the phone at 5am. My heart is broken in more ways than one!” Jenel wrote in a social media post.

Broken rails and other track problems are a leading cause of derailments, according to federal accident data.

The NTSB has long recommended installing more rail lines Automated monitoring systems It can detect track problems early and prevent accidents. The agency reiterated its call for those systems in July in response to A Amtrak’s fatal derailment Along BNSF-owned tracks in northern Montana two years ago.

It was not immediately known whether the track where the train derailed on Sunday had such a system. NTSB spokeswoman Sarah Taylor Sulik said that was part of the investigation.

“They’ll pull maintenance records. They’ll interview the people involved. They’ll talk to the railroad. They’ll talk to the state,” Sulik said.

BNSF did not say when it last conducted an inspection and did not immediately respond to questions or emailed requests to view its inspection records.

Russell Quimby, a former NTSB investigator, said there was likely an automatic warning system in place in Colorado because the accident occurred along one of the main rail routes between Denver and Texas, where BNSF is headquartered and which has several combustion-fired power plants. Coal.

These warning systems are built into the track and are designed to block any approaching trains in the event of a track break, Quimby said. However, he said that if the track broke while the train was passing over it, there would not be much the on-board engineer could do, as it could take more than a mile to stop a fully loaded freight train.

“The most stress you’re going to have on that track is when there’s something sitting on it. A fully loaded rail car, it puts more than 15 tons of pressure on the track per wheel,” he said.

Railroads inspect their tracks regularly, looking for cracks or other defects in the tracks that might make them more vulnerable to breakage. Repairs are scheduled based on the severity of the defect, so even if the problem is identified, it may not be fixed immediately.

A nine-mile (14-kilometer) stretch of I-25 — used by between 39,000 and 44,000 vehicles daily — was closed. Traffic was diverted around the site of the derailment and through the town of Penrose, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Pueblo.

Pressure has been mounting on the rail industry to improve safety since a train derailed in February Toxic chemicals Which led to evacuations in Ohio and Pennsylvania. There have been more than 12,400 train derailments in the United States in the past decade, or more than 1,200 annually, according to Federal Railroad Administration data based on reports provided by the railroads.

At least 111 rail accidents have occurred due to bridge failure or bridge misalignment since 1976, according to an Associated Press review of derailment reports filed by railroads with the Federal Railroad Administration. That’s just over two incidents per year on average.

Sunday’s accident follows a Railway bridge collapse In June along the Montana Rail Trail that led to railcars loaded with petroleum products falling into the Yellowstone River, Molten sulfur poured and up to 250 tons (226.7 metric tons) of hot asphalt. The accident is still under investigation.

    (tags for translation) Bridge Collapse 

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