After railcar wreck, Union Pacific aims to restore local operations by Friday morning

ST. LOUIS – A close call in downtown St. Louis early Thursday morning as railcars jumped an elevated section and crashed to the ground. The railcars narrowly missed landing on vehicles and people traveling the nearby interstates.

Around 4:45 a.m., seven railcars in the morning fell onto vacant lots on the ground between the Mississippi River and the highways.

“It kind of blows my mind,” said bystander Scott Brandis. “I don’t see how something like that could happen.”

The railcars were empty.

“We’re just so thankful nobody was hurt, (they) didn’t impede the public in any way, blocking roads, that kind of thing,” said Kristen South, Union Pacific Railroad spokeswoman.

Amtrak and other railroads were not affected, South said. The cars were being moved from one St. Louis railyard to another. Wheels from the train cars were scattered along the track, though that’s not surprising.

“The wheelset is not attached”, South said. “Gravity and the weight of a rail car is what holds the car onto the wheels.”

The Federal Railroad Administration will try to determine the cause of the accident. People watched crews investigate and make repairs. The people noticed the trestle didn’t look new.

“It’s really, really crazy,” said bystander Mark Dillon. “I’ll tell you, I’ve seen this whole edge here over the years coming down like that. For years, hunks of it.”

South said federal regulation requires all railroad bridges be inspected annually.

“We exceed that and inspect our bridges twice annually,” she said, adding that the train trestle passed the most recent inspection.

Union Pacific hopes to have everything back to normal by Thursday night or early Friday morning.