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UP investigates why train left main line


After Tuesday's fiery early-morning train crash in Hays, one question investigators will seek an answer for is how a westbound train from Salina to Denver left the main line and collided with freights cars sitting in the rail yard.

"Naturally, the investigation is why that train (that was supposed) to stay on the main line ... was diverted into the rail yard," Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said late Tuesday morning. "That's the focus."

Three locomotives and 79 cars were diverted from the main line at approximately 1:25 a.m., colliding with freight cars sitting on a track. Four of those cars were derailed, along with 10 cars from the train. Four freight cars from an adjacent track also were derailed. The three locomotives were damaged beyond repair in the resulting fire, which wasn't extinguished until 8:30 a.m.

The main rail line was not damaged, but a portion of the adjacent track where the crash occurred will need repairs.

The threw crew members — an engineer, conductor and switchman — were not injured.

"The human factors team will interview the train crew," Davis said. "Peer support-wise, if they need some help to talk through what happened, we have a team that will do that with them."

Some questions of why the accident occurred could be answered once the event recorder from the train is analyzed.

"Hopefully, we'll have that in a day or two, once they analyze all that info," Davis said.