Glenview train derailment meeting Monday

Crews on Friday morning removed the last remnants of rail car parts from the site of the July 4 Union Pacific freight train derailment in Glenview.

By noon today, the accident site will be cleared of all debris from the derailment of 31 fully loaded coal cars weighing 140 tons each, 28 of which piled up on top of the 86-foot-long railroad bridge on Shermer Road, causing it to buckle and kill a Glenview couple.

Trains have been running through the site since July 6 on a track laid over a temporary gravel bridge over Shermer Road. A second track has been operating since Monday, Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Mark Davis said.

That area of Shermer Road will remain closed until a permanent bridge is reconstructed, which could take two months, Davis said.

Community members seeking answers about the train derailment and viaduct collapse will have the opportunity to question authorities at a public meeting Monday hosted by the villages of Glenview and Northbrook. Union Pacific Railroad officials will be on hand to address the concerns of residents and businesses.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Sheely Center for the Performing Arts at Glenbrook North High School, 2300 Shermer Road, Northbrook.

Railroad representatives will discuss a 2009 train derailment near that location and repairs made to the Shermer Road viaduct in 2011.

In November 2009, two Canadian Pacific Railroad freight trains collided there, toppling 18 cars, including one that fell onto Shermer Road. An FRA investigation found an equipment malfunction caused an eastbound Canadian Pacific train to derail and subsequently sideswipe another Canadian Pacific train that was stationary. Another derailment occurred at the viaduct in 1974, officials said.

Union Pacific officials also will share their preliminary findings on the July 4 derailment and update area residents about temporary repairs and plans for the permanent bridge replacement and claims processing, according to a joint news release from both villages.

Representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois Commerce Commission and Illinois Department of Transportation also are expected to be present Monday.

Davis said Union Pacific and the Federal Railroad Administration are conducting a detailed investigation, which could take anywhere from three to 12 months.

The preliminary cause of the derailment is believed to be heat-related, with high temperatures causing the track to get out of alignment, he said.

“We’re always anxious to find the cause because that helps us in reducing derailment,” Davis said.

The train was traveling at 37 miles per hour, according to the onboard data recorder. Per the heat advisory in effect, the maximum allowed speed was reduced from 50 miles per hour to 40 miles per hour, Davis said.

Union Pacific has not changed its policies regarding heat advisories because of the derailment.

Currently, when a heat order is in effect, trains are required to run slower, and track inspections are performed twice a day.

“Train crew members, even though they are not train track inspectors, if they feel something is out of the ordinary, they will report that,” Davis said.

Meanwhile, the portion of the warped track and all other pieces related to the accident have been impounded because of a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of the two victims, Burton and Zorine Lindner. The Lindners’ family is alleging negligence on the railroad’s part in maintaining and repairing its track and bridge.

Davis said inspection reports for the track and bridge won’t be made public due to pending litigation.

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  Work continued in Glenview Friday where the railroad bridge over Shermer Road in Glenview collapsed following a Union Pacific train derailment on July 4. George LeClaire/
  Crews continue cleanup of the train derailment site in Glenview Friday. George LeClaire/
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