Railroad News

Union Pacific Coal Train Derails, Collapses Overpass in Chicago Suburb

(Northbrook/Glenview, Illinois – July 4, 2012)

While a Fourth of July parade was underway, in another part of the north Chicago suburb, Union Pacific Railroad was providing fireworks of its own when 31 loaded cars of a 138-car coal train being hauled by three locomotives derailed, collapsing a recently-renovated railroad overpass and creating a traffic problem that will take months to clean up and repair.

The overpass, which crosses Shermer Avenue near the city limits where Northbrook adjoins Glenview, had been rebuilt last summer following a November, 2009 UP accident in which one freight train derailed and struck a second train as the two passed, derailing a total of 18 cars. 

A worker in a nearby office building, Tony Nielsen, said “the whole building shook” when the accident occurred. Nielsen said there appeared to be a fire, which another witness, Rob Stein, confirmed. He said after he saw smoke coming from the area, “the flames shot up, and then the fire stopped. It was very spooky.”

Railroad officials said the train, which originated in Wyoming, was bound for an electrical generating plant in Wisconsin. It was also confirmed that Union Pacific would have to design and build a new bridge to replace the 86’ long span, something that will take some time, according to UP Public Relations Manager Mark Davis.

Deputy Chief Phil Perlini of the Glenview Police Dept. indicated that no cars or people had been found beneath the wreckage of the train and collapsed bridge, and that UPRR would be conducting an investigation into the accident.

Northbrook Deputy Fire Chief Bob Brogan said the wreck caused a small brush fire, but that it was extinguished before it could endanger a nearby propane storage unit, which was then moved from the scene as a precaution.