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Train comes off track in Aubrey, blocks roadways

Randy Tarlton was startled by an explosive sound outside his home Wednesday morning.

“I heard a loud bang – just huge,” said Tarlton. “Then, nothing. And that’s odd.”

The oddity turned out to be a train derailment across the street from his home in the 400 block of South Main Street in Aubrey. It happened around 9:30 a.m. near Pecan and Main streets. There were no injuries, but debris and equipment hit a shed on a residential property in Aubrey, said Aubrey police Capt. William Townsend.

“That’s the extent of the damage we know thus far,” he said, noting the damage of the railroad property as well.

The incessant din of barking dogs, a TV news station helicopter and railroad crossing warning signals could be heard in the downtown area on the sunny, mild winter morning. Neighbors came outside to investigate the commotion caused by the derailment. Also at the scene were police and fire crews, representatives of Union Pacific and Texas New Mexico Power.

Townsend said he thinks the problems originated south of Aubrey.

“I know it’s stretching all the way down to Krugerville,” Townsend said at the scene. “They’ve got some roads that are crossing over the tracks right now that are shut down, too. From what I’ve heard, there’s some metal works and some concrete that are torn up. So it’s a couple miles worth of [impact] right now.”

He said officials with Union Pacific, TNMP, police, fire and public works would work together to ensure the track would be cleared with cranes and equipment. Northeast Police Department said the railroad crossing where Cortes Lane, New Hope Road and Johnson Lane all in meet in Krugerville has been closed by the railroad.

Aubrey City Administrator Mark Kaiser said in a news release that no hazardous materials were released at the derailment. He said there was minimal property damage beyond the wreckage, and within a few hours, the railroad operations were beginning clean-up and repairs.

Traffic would be diverted from the Main Street (FM 428) and New Hope Road crossings.

Kristen South, Union Pacific Railroad senior director of corporate communications and media relations, said in a statement that the railroad anticipated having the “tracks cleared and reopened” by Thursday evening. She said one locomotive and six rail cars derailed upright, “meaning they are still on their wheels, but off the track.” Seven additional cars overturned, bringing the total number of impacted rail cars to 13.

“We are working to quickly and safely clear the mainline,” said South, based in Omaha. “An inspection team will look at the tracks and make any necessary repairs. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.”

“Once we clear the tracks, inspectors will ensure they are safe for freight traffic,” she said, adding that if repairs are necessary, they will be made.

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