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Runaway tank car travels more than 15 miles before being stopped

By | January 26, 2022

Empty car reportedly reached speeds of 50 mph

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. — A runaway tank car reportedly reached speeds of up to 50 mph on a trip of more than 15 miles Tuesday before finally being stopped when it reached an upgrade, the Walla Walla Union Bulletin reports.

The GATX tank car broke loose from a Columbia-Wall Walla Railway train in Walla Walla before being stopped near Touchet, Wash. Walla Walla County Undersheriff Joe Klundt told the newspaper that the car had slowed to about 3 mph while rolling uphill when an employee was able to jump onboard and apply the brakes.

KEPR-TV reports the empty car broke loose about 1 p.m., with officers from the Walla Walla and College Place police departments, Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, and Washington State Patrol working to block grade crossings along the car’s route.

Railroad owner Paul Didelius told the newspaper the cause of the incident was under investigation.

The railroad operates 55 miles leased from Union Pacific and 37 miles leased from the Port of Columbia, according to UP information.




9 thoughts on “Runaway tank car travels more than 15 miles before being stopped

  1. This used to happen a lot on the Boston & Maine’s Fitchburg line Ashburnham Hill. The usual culpit was in switching a customer at Wachusetts near where that station is now, plus a steep grade. Boxcars used to roll through town until slowing down on the North Leominster grade. Problem was finally solved when the customer went out of business.

  2. Dangerous situation all the way around thankfully no one was hurt. Whatever the cause, be it negligence, accident or equipment failure it doesn’t look good for any railroad company. This is a learning experience for all.

  3. Could be as Michael says.. But in that case a car or two should have been left on the main with hand brakes applied. Playing with fire if they were switching without air and nothing to prevent a runaway.

  4. It may have shunted he signals but also going to fast to give people long enough notice. Article says police and sheriff dept were working to block grade crossings.

    1. There is a video out there from one of the crossings the police were flagging. The crossing in the video is only protected by cross bucks. You can see another officer “leapfrogging” the tank car on a parallel roadway.

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