Flooded, swamplike conditions were likely a factor in the partial derailment of a 33-car freight train Friday afternoon south of Elk Grove, Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs said Saturday.
“With all that water that was there, it’s not typical,” he said. “That whole area around (the tracks) is near a river that was overflowing.”
The derailment, which dislodged 22 rail cars from the tracks running on an elevated berm and train trestle adjacent to Dillard Road and Highway 99, is still being investigated by UP, Jacobs said.
None of the three crew members on board during the 12:45 p.m. incident reported injuries. The freight train was carrying food products, including flour and tomato cans.
Early Saturday, crews began clearing the derailment area. Jacobs said rising water predicted for Friday night posed a danger to UP workers, forcing them to close the area until the next day.
Long lines of trucks and heavy equipment sat scattered along Dillard Road on Saturday as crews worked to construct an earthen bridge leading up to the toppled rail cars on the track.
Greg Stanton, an independent truck driver, said he picked up a load of boulders early Saturday in Ione and headed for the tracks off Dillard Road. As of mid-Saturday afternoon, he and his truck, loaded with 20 tons of rock, were parked on West Stockton Road alongside Highway 99 waiting for word to move in, he said.
“They’re going to build us a road to get the big rocks in,” Stanton said, referring to the quarter-ton boulders rising jaggedly out of his gondola waiting to be dumped to repair the rail route.
Nearby, crews kept their eyes peeled for a possible levee failure in the Franklin area. Red Cross workers erected a shelter in Elk Grove and low-lying residents stood ready to move to dry ground.
Union Pacific officials said there was no estimate for how long cleanup would take. Both commuter and freight trains pass through the damaged track area, Jacobs said.
Amtrak spokeswoman Renee Graham said the derailment would affect passengers traveling between Stockton and Sacramento. The company was using shuttle buses to transport passengers between the two cities and anticipated a 30-minute delay in arrival times, she said.
The portion of railroad tracks where the incident took place was checked Thursday, a day before the derailment, Jacobs said.
“There was nothing, no abnormalities or anything out of the ordinary,” he said.