Trouble on the Tracks: When an Amtrak Train Derailed in Colorado in 1985
Records show that the derailment cost Amtrak just over $8 million in today's money; luckily, there were no fatalities.
With the recent, tragic, Amtrak derailment in Missouri, I wondered how many Amtrak derailments have happened here in Colorado. Turns out, though there have been other derailments, only one was an Amtrak train.
It was a Tuesday evening, the night of April 16, 1985, at 7:25 p.m. when the California Zephyr left Granby, on its way to Denver. There were 129 passengers and 14 Amtrak and railroad crew members on board. The train consisted of 12 cars, including two locomotives that were moving the train, until the derailment happened.
The fireman and the engineer for the train became horribly aware that they were approaching an area of the train track where there was nothing beneath the track. A void. They hit the air brakes, but not in time enough to keep the two locomotives from plunging down when the tracks gave way with the weight. The two baggage cars that were behind those locomotives fell off tracks as well, and ended up landing on the locomotives.
Two of the eight remaining cars of the Zephyr did not fall into the opening, but they did jackknife; the reaming six stayed on the track, without derailing. Of the 129 passengers, only 14 had sustained injury, while only one member of the railroad/Amtrak crew was injured. The fireman and the engineer were able to climb out of the lead locomotive and made their way 1/s of a mile to an railroad operator phone to call for help, since the train's radio had been damaged.
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Over 400 feet of track was damaged with the derailment, along with the two locomotives and two other cars, the estimated damages totaled a whopping $2.9 million dollars. The official report lists a landslide that happened between 3:30 p.m. and 7:25 p.m. that day as being the cause of the accident.
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