Rail fastening system replaced on train tracks in Gorge

The curved track now contains a fastening system that includes spikes instead of lag bolts

Trains run just feet from the oil cleanup site in Mosier, June 5, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Union Pacific has finished replacing the rail fastening system on 8 miles of curved railroad tracks in the Columbia River Gorge, the company announced on Thursday.

The curved track now contains a fastening system that includes spikes instead of lag bolts. This will enhance defect detectability during inspections.

“We have a clear focus – to safely operate our trains and protect our communities,” said Wes Lujan, Union Pacific vice president – public affairs, Western Region. “The fastening system replacement reinforces our commitment to rail safety in the Gorge as we strive to improve upon our 99.98 percent hazardous materials safety record and achieve our goal of zero incidents.”

In Oregon, Union Pacific said it has reduced reportable derailments by 58 percent from 2000 to 2015.

This comes after a train towing a highly volatile type of oil derailed in the Gorge in June. A total of 11 cars detailed, and several caught fire, releasing oil alongside tracks that parallel the Columbia River near Mosier.