MAX train derails on ice-covered tracks in Rose Quarter

The derailment caused hours of disruption for area commuters

Icy tracks derailed a MAX train in the Rose Quarter, January 13, 2017 (KOIN)
Icy tracks derailed a MAX train in the Rose Quarter, January 13, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ice-covered tracks derailed a MAX train at the Rose Quarter early Friday morning, causing major disruptions and delays for area commuters already hampered by the week’s bad weather.

“This has never happened in our history” -TriMet’s Mary Fetsch

TriMet officials said the train was moving from the Blue Line alignment to the Yellow Line alignment when ice that had built up caused the train to come off the rails. The train was in service at the time of the derailment and there were passengers on board, but no one was injured.

The train was back on the tracks sometime around 8:30 a.m., but MAX service remained disrupted for hours. By 1 p.m., TriMet said all MAX service was restored but delays continue.

“This has never happened in our history,” said TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch. “There was some ice, and it lifted the wheels off the track, and then (the train) landed on the concrete nearby.

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TriMet crews used shovels and blow torches to clear the tracks of ice, then raised the train back onto the tracks using a hydraulic lift.

“We got (the train) onto a clear piece of pavement and then we were able to lift the train back up and restore it to the rails,” said TriMet rail equipment mainenance director Dan Blair. “It took about a four hour operation and turned it into about 30 minutes.”

Fetsch says TriMet is not sure at this time how the tracks became so icy, but TriMet is conducting an investigation to find an answer.

“Even though it’s only happened this one time because of these circumstances, it still is something that we look at and say ‘How do we ensure we don’t do this again?'” she said.

TriMet urged riders use alternate transportation or regular bus service, but cautioned some bus lines are not running on schedule due to slick road conditions.

Also Friday morning, a TriMet bus on Mt. Scott Road got stuck on ice.