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Train Derails; Freight Cars Block Highway

November 11, 1986|Associated Press

GOSHEN, Calif. — A worn rail caused 23 Southern Pacific freight cars to derail in the San Joaquin Valley early Monday, toppling at least five cars onto California 99, railroad officials said.

No one was injured in the 12:40 a.m. accident, and no vehicles were hit on the highway, California Highway Patrolman Bob Locke said. It is a major artery in the daytime but lightly traveled at night.

The derailed flatbed freight cars and their loads of empty piggyback trailers were strewn along both sides of the tracks, with five of them coming to rest in the freeway, where they blocked all three northbound lanes. Motorists used part of the fast lane and the center divider to get around the wreckage for more than five hours, Locke said.

Railroad spokesman Gerald Pera said a transverse fissure of the rail apparently caused the accident, derailing 23 cars of the 58-car train, bound for Portland, Ore., from Los Angeles, 150 miles south of the accident scene.

"Over a period of time, the molecular structure of steel broke down and caused a crack in the rail very similar to a pane of glass," Pera said. "At some point in time, something heavy enough comes over it to cause it to break apart."

Officials were rushing to get flatcars and piggyback trucks removed so that tracks could be repaired. They hoped that service could be restored by midnight, Pera said. In the meantime, Southern Pacific trains were being diverted to the company's coastal line or to Santa Fe tracks through the valley, he added.

"Fortunately, none of our traffic will be tied up," Pera said.

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