The massive collision between two freight trains in Missouri’s Scott County Saturday at around 2:30 a.m. CDT (3:30 a.m. EDT) is noteworthy in a number of respects: It caused a state Route M overpass to collapse, it injured seven people, and it was the third railroad accident in or around the village of Rockview this year.
The latest mishap involved a train owned by the BNSF Railway Co. unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) and another train owned by the Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE:UNP). “One train T-boned the other one and caused it to derail, and the derailed train hit a pillar which caused the overpass to collapse,” Scott County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Clay Slipis told Reuters. The crash also sparked a fire as diesel fuel leaked out of one of the train engines. About a dozen cars were involved in the derailment.
None of the seven people hurt in the crash -- five who had been in two automobiles on the highway overpass and two who were working aboard one of the trains -- suffered life-threatening injuries. All seven were treated and released by the St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau Saturday.
“The damage is very extensive," Mark Shelton, a Missouri Department of Transportation engineer, said of the highway overpass Sunday, according to the Associated Press. “We’re going to end up removing the entire bridge and completely replacing it.”
Shelton estimated the price of the project would be in the area of $3 million, and he expects the bridge to reopen in September, AP reported. One or the other of the railroad companies -- or both -- would likely pay the tab, but a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the cause of the accident that began Saturday is still in its early stage, he noted. “We’ll have to go through the investigation and all that stuff and figure out liability. But our bridge was just standing there. … So certainly we’ll be looking to the railroad for recovery,” he said.
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The first railroad accident in or around Rockview in 2013 happened Jan. 29, when more than 40 cars on a Union Pacific train derailed, the Southeast Missourian reported. Its cause was extreme wind velocity, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, or FRA.
The second railroad accident in or around the village this year occurred on April 22, when four cars on a BNSF Railway train derailed, the Southeast Missourian said. Its cause has not yet been posted on FRA’s online site.