Union Pacific: ETX ‘runaway’ train was staffed, brakes malfunctioned
ANDERSON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -
On Monday, authorities said that the train thought to be running through East Texas unmanned, actually had a two person crew on it.
Around 7:30 Sunday night, the train departed Palestine and traveled along Highway79 to Jacksonville.
Authorities initially reported that no one was on the train, but Monday officials reversed that.
They say there was both an engineer and conductor on board, but they do say the brakes had gone out, forcing the people on board to wait for the train to stop on its own.
Union Pacific officials say engineers were moving cars around the Palestine rail yard when two locomotives and 26 cars, all attached to each other, started rolling away.
"Basically what happened was the train continued down the tracks and the engineer discovered the brakes were not working properly," says Union Pacific Spokesperson Raquel Espinoza.
"There was a crew. They have a two man crew, and for whatever reason the train lost air pressure, which causes the train to lose its ability to stop," says Palestine Police Department Sergeant James Muniz.
Law enforcement officials from two counties took extra precautions to ensure the public's safety, but they say the risk of danger was minimal.
"Those safety devices were still in place and they still were working. So, they didn't place any person in any more danger than normal," says Muniz.
About seven miles down the track, the train came to a stop.
"There is a hill just outside the rail yard, and the train went down the hill and it finally rolled to a stop when the hill came back up," says Espinoza.
Officials say while the train never traveled faster than about 25 mph, the rumors did.
"We just want to put a stop to the rumors, that there was more than one train, there was not... that the train was unmanned... it was not unmanned. Nobody was injured and that was the most important thing," says Muniz.
Union Pacific Officials say incidents like these are rare and they're glad to know that should it ever happen again, the safety plans in place work just as they're meant to.
Union Pacific says they notified local authorities within minutes of the train's departure. Sheriff's deputies, DPS troopers, fire crews and police were stationed at intersections where the train crossed traffic as an extra precaution.