(Keithville, Louisiana – December 30, 2013)
Investigators from both railroads and numerous public agencies were trying to determine why a Union Pacific freight train ran into the rear of a standing BNSF coal train Monday morning at about 6:40 A.M. in the small city of Keithville, Louisiana a few miles south of Shreveport, LA, resulting in injuries to four UPRR employees aboard the locomotives of the second train.
Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick said both trains were southbound and the BNSF coal train was standing in a side track while the UPRR train was supposed to pass it. Instead, however, the UP train was diverted into the rear of the BNSF train resulting in the derailment of about 10 to 15 empty coal hopper cars as well as at least two COFC container cars being hauled by the UP train.
Chadwick said four UPRR employees aboard the moving train were injured, with the most seriously being transported to University Health Center in Shreveport, LA.
The derailment took place near the major intersection of Old Mansfield and Keithville Springridge Roads, causing CPSO officers to close down the thoroughfares as well as Clingman Road. Keithville Springridge intersects with the Union Pacific tracks while Old Mansfield and Clingman Roads parallel the tracks on opposite sides. Thus, the accident shut down the main parts of town until late Monday.
Officers at first feared diesel fuel was leaking from the collision and summoned HazMat crews as a precaution, but later learned the leaking materials consisted of anti-freeze and oil, materials which experts determined to be non-hazardous.
The UP owns the tracks and BNSF trains travel over them via trackage rights received as concessions for the 1996 UP/Southern Pacific merger. About a dozen trains of both railroads operate daily through the corridor at top allowable speeds of 40 mph.