The elevated section of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad where four train cars tumbled off the tracks during Monday’s storm re-opened about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, a railroad official said.
Engineers found no structural damage to the trestle, which leads trains away from the Huey P. Long Bridge in Elmwood, the official said, adding that minor repairs to some guard rails and other parts of the bridge should be wrapped up “in the next few days.”
The tracks were reopened with the help of a Texas-based company called Hulcher Services, which specializes in train derailments. Several cars derailed without falling off the bridge, the official said, and those had to be put back on the rails and moved off the railroad.
The company is expected to be done removing the rail cars that did fall either Tuesday or Wednesday, said Jeff DeGraff, a spokesman for Union Pacific, whose cargo train was involved in Monday’s derailment.
DeGraff said Hulcher was cutting up the fallen containers and cars to load them onto dump trucks and haul them off. Equipment being used included a pair of cranes, an excavator, a backhoe and a bulldozer.
The Union Pacific train was headed from Los Angeles to the CSX Gentilly Yard in New Orleans. At about 11:15 a.m., a two-person crew was about to pull the front of the train onto a parallel track to let the wind subside, Union Pacific said.
But before the train could begin pulling onto the parallel tracks, cars and containers toward the rear of the train were blown off the left side of the railroad by a strong gust of wind.
No one was injured. Neither the cars nor the containers had any hazardous materials inside of them, officials said.
The Federal Railroad Administration by Tuesday had sent at least one inspector to the scene of the derailment, agency spokesman Michael Cole said. Cole said he expected the inspector would submit a preliminary report by about Wednesday or Thursday.
While the railroad administration dispatched an inspector, Monday’s incident did not warrant what would be considered a full-scale investigation, in part because there were no injuries or hazardous materials involved, Cole said.
A WGNO-TV news photographer in the parking lot of a Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in the 900 block of South Clearview Parkway captured the derailment on video as it happened.