Railroad News

Rear End Collision near Famed Tehachapi Loop Shuts down Railroad

(Kern County, California – May 20, 2013)

Less than two months after a Union Pacific freight train derailed 18 empty freight cars near the famed Tehachapi Loop in Kern County, CA, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train hauling automobiles from Albuquerque, NM to Richmond, CA rear-ended a Union Pacific freight train near the same spot at about 3:00 A.M. Monday morning, resulting in the derailment of an unoccupied UPRR locomotive being operated by remote control and overturning four UPRR freight cars onto their sides.

The Tehachapi Loop, which eases the ascent and descent of trains through the Tehachapi Pass of the Tehachapi Mountains south of Bakersfield, CA, and spirals the railroad tracks through about a three-quarter mile distance laterally, was built in 1874 by the Southern Pacific Railroad, which was usurped by Union Pacific in 1996, and trackage rights over the famed route were obtained earlier by BNSF fore-runner Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

BNSF Spokesperson Lena Kent said only that one of the BNSF’s freight trains was “involved” in a rear-end crash with a Union Pacific train.

UPRR Spokesman Aaron Hunt said the location of the collision was just south of the Loop in an unincorporated area of Kern County known as Walong.

The railroad, which handles a daily average of 40 freight trains of both railroad companies, was shut down until the derailed cars and locomotive could be re-railed and the track repaired.

No one was injured, but rear-end collisions are the worst in embarrassments railroad safety efforts can hope to absorb.