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Freight train derailment and bridge collapse

Thursday, July 05, 2012
A freight train derailed on a bridge deck Wednesday, leading to a several-railcar pile-up in Northbrook.

Investigators are trying to determine if the heat played a role in a freight train derailment where 31 cars went off the tracks near the border of Glenview and Northbrook at Willow and Shermer Roads.

The clean up has begun and early word from investigators is they think the bridge did collapse after the train derailment. The bridge did not collapse causing the train derailment; they say it happened after the trains went off the track.

Off the tracks, on their sides and a few dangling dangerously. In all, 31 train cars derailed Wednesday afternoon.

By Wednesday evening, the delicate task of cleaning up this mess got underway.

"I thought it was a southbound train that had gone off the tracks," said Fritz Huszagh. "It turns out it was a northbound train loaded with coal and the bridge collapsed.

An ABC 7 viewer recorded video of a small brush fire that ignited after at least one of the train cars brought down electrical wires.

Union Pacific Railroad investigators are walking the tracks and talking with the train's two crew members.

"Our crews are very confident that it wasn't a collapse, then a derailment, it was the other way around," said Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Mark Davis.

Davis said this week's extreme heat may have affected rails and equipment.

"The science of the rails, definitely weather and heat plays a role and that's what the team will be looking at," he said.

Three years ago, the same section of tracks was the scene of a collision between two freight trains.

Investigators determined that crash was caused by a mechanical problem with one of the trains.

Wednesday, police and fire crews say its luck a passing car didn't get crushed.

"It was a holiday and as most holidays, this usually busy stretch of road, all the businesses were closed and thank God they were," said Glenview Deputy Chief Phil Perlini said.

A Union Pacific Railroad spokesman said the cleanup and road repair will only take a few days. It will take longer than that to fix the bridge.

These are only lightly used freight train tracks, which means Metra's commuter operations will not be affected.

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