(Slinger, Wisconsin – July 20, 2014)
The freight trains of two railroads, a southbound Canadian National train traveling from Fon du Lac, WI with three locomotives and 98 cars destined for Champaign, IL, and a Wisconsin & Southern train of standing cars collided at a junction point between the two railroads in the small town of Slinger, WI, about 35 miles north of Milwaukee, WI Sunday night at about 8:30 P.M., CDT.
The collision and derailment of the three CN locomotives and four cars loaded with fracking sand used in the oil industry and W&S Railroad’s train derailment of seven cars, loaded with lumber, plastic pellets and resin solution, caused two CN employees, the locomotive engineer and the conductor, to be taken to a local hospital, and for over a hundred residents of dozens of homes in the mid-town area of the accident to be evacuated as a precaution, as hazardous materials were in the trains’ consists, although none of them derailed. However, an estimated 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the ruptured fuel tank of one of the derailed locomotives.
The CN crew claimed to have signal clearance through the multi-track junction and did not expect to encounter the Wisconsin & Southern train. Regardless, had the Congressionally-mandated, satellite-based Positive Train Control System, which over-rides human control when collisions are imminent, been operational, it would have prevented the wreck.
Evacuees were allowed to return home by 1:30 A.M. Monday morning, and Wisconsin State Railroad Commissioner, who was on site, said of the situation “It’s bad, but it could have been a lot worse.”
The location of the derailment was adjacent to the Slinger High School physical plant and athletic complex, making its timing of a Sunday, summer night when school was not in session to be miraculous in the potential danger it would have posed to the town’s residents at another time.
The accident brought back memories of a July 15, 2002 Canadian National freight train derailment in which 20 cars of a 107-car train, many loaded with hazardous materials, overturned in Slinger.