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Broken rail caused 16-car freight train derailment in Colorado foothills

<i>KCNC via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Burlington Northern-Santa Fe suffered almost $1.4 million in equipment damage in the accident.
KCNC via CNN Newsource
Burlington Northern-Santa Fe suffered almost $1.4 million in equipment damage in the accident.

By Logan Smith

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    Colorado (KCNC) — A fractured section of railroad track led to 16 cars of a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe freight train derailing near Pinecliffe seven months ago.

The 78-car train was descending eastbound when a “vertical split head on the north-side rail” sent cars off the tracks, according to summary reports from BNSF and Union Pacific, the owner of the tracks. Those reports were filed with the Federal Railway Administration.

Half the cars remained upright, the others overturned. Some of the derailed cars were empty, some others carried cargo of diesel fuel oil or magnesium, according to the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office. None of the filled cars leaked any amount of their contents.

The heavily used route was closed for 36 hours until railroad crews moved derailed cars to the side of the tracks. Amtrak put its cross-country route passengers on buses between Denver and Grand Junction to circumvent the closure.

BNSF suffered almost $1.4 million in equipment damage in the accident.

During peak coal traffic through the early 2010s, more than two dozen freight trains reportedly used the route through the Moffat Tunnel every day. The line no longer runs at that capacity.

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