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CP probes Iowa switching incident

The Canadian Pacific Railway is investigating an incident involving a train that occurred Monday afternoon in the same spot as last summer’s deadly derailment behind Hampton Cranes in Bettendorf, Iowa, the Quad City Times reports.

Mike LoVecchio, a spokesman for the railroad, declined to give details about what happened. He called it an “operational incident” and said there was no derailment or injuries.

He said the incident delayed the train by about three hours while investigators examined the scene.

“We take this pretty seriously, and we’re going to investigate it thoroughly,” LoVecchio said. “Our priority is the safe operation of the railroad.”

Bettendorf police and fire crews were not dispatched to the scene and had no additional information.

LoVecchio said that unlike the July 14 crash, the train “stopped short” of derailing. In that incident, two Savanna, Ill., men were killed in the crash at 29th and State streets. One was the engineer, 27-year-old Joshua Osborn, and the other the conductor, Andrew Reed, 27.

According to a National Transportation Safety Board report on the July 14 incident, a northbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe, or BNSF train, had arrived at the Bettendorf yard to deliver freight cars. The BNSF train crew left both the switch from the main track to the west side of the yard and the switch to the siding track on the east side of the yard in the open position aligned away from the main track.

The BNSF train crew then released track authority to a Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern, or DME, train dispatcher by radio. The dispatcher told the DME train to use the main track to travel from Bettendorf to Nahant Marsh.

The southbound DME train that had been stopped outside the Bettendorf yard moved along the main track at a speed of 25 mph. The switch from the main track to the east siding was realigned by remote control by the DME train crew so that the train could pass through on the main track.

The switch from the main track to the west Bettendorf yard was a manual switch only, and it remained open to the west side yard tracks. The open switch from the main track into the west side yard routed the DME train to where it struck the rail cars sitting on track 3 in the Bettendorf yard.

The NTSB could not be reached for comment regarding Monday’s incident.

(This item appeared Feb. 17, 2010, in the Quad City Times.)

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