Des Plaines Mayor Requests "Proactive" Rail Inspection

High heat suspected of being factors in four train derailments in two weeks

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Federal Railroad Administration says high heat a factor in several train derailments. Christian Farr reports. (Published Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012)

    Des Plaines' mayor on Tuesday called for inspection of a railroad trestle in the city to prevent a catastrophic train derailment like the one in Glenview earlier this month that claimed two lives.

    "In an effort to secure the health and safety of Des Plaines residents and commuters, I want an inspection as soon as possible. We don’t want to be responding to a disaster," Mayor Moylan said in a statement. "We want to make sure Des Plaines is proactive."

    Specifically, he called on the city's Public Works and Engineering Department to inspect the railroad crossing over the Route 14 "S" curve.

    With the season's high heat, Moylan's concern may be well-founded. A safety advisory notice from the Federal Railroad Administration, released July 11, points to rail buckling -- commonly referred to as "sun kinks" -- as the preliminary cause of four derailments within a two week period.

    A Union Pacific train derailed in Junction City, Kan., on June 27, when the temperature rose to 107 degrees. Days later, in Mesa, Wash., a BNSF Railway Co. coal train derailed amid 90 degree temperatures.

    On July 4, and with temperatures in the high-90s, more than 40 coal cars came off the tracks near Pendleton, Texas. Just a few hours earlier, and a little more than 1,000 miles away, a Union Pacific train passing through Glenview came off the track, destroyed a bridge and claimed the lives of Burton and Zorine Lindner.

    At a meeting Monday evening to discuss the Glenview incident, Union Pacific officials said a staffer noticed a problem with the track and reported it to a colleague, but the train derailed before an inspector could get to the scene.

    The attorney representing the Lindner family has requested the National Transportation Safety Board takes over the investigation. Robert Clifford said there is "the appearance of impropriety if not an outright conflict of interest" in allowing Union Pacific and the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct the probe.