ODOT: TriMet didn’t have plan to deal with icy tracks

Ice on tracks caused MAX train to derail on January 13

A MAX train derailed at the Rose Quarter, January 13 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — TriMet didn’t have a plan in place to deal with ice on the tracks when a MAX train derailed during freezing rain in January, the Oregon Department of Transportation revealed Wednesday.

The train was moving westbound from the Rose Quarter, switching from the Blue Line alignment to the Yellow Line alignment when it slid off the icy tracks.

It ended up about 20 feet off the rail, but no passengers were hurt.

A view of the derailed MAX train from Chopper 6, January 13 2017. (KOIN)
A view of the derailed MAX train from Chopper 6, January 13 2017. (KOIN)

ODOT’s investigation into the incident reportedly found the derailment was caused by extreme weather conditions. Train cars had been packing snow on the tracks, which later froze and became icy.

“There is no guidance for instances of ice,” ODOT’s report states. “These types of events do not happen frequently in this area, however in light of this incident, adding some language for operating procedures when ice is present is advisable.”

TriMet Chief Operating Officer Doug Kelsey told KOIN 6 News it was up to train operators to assess the situation, since there was no plan in place to deal with ice.

“It’s a combination, it takes all kinds of eyes and ears out there, our people who are in charge of the infrastructure, to the people who actually run the trains,” Kelsey said. “So, our train operators, really good train operators, have a responsibility not just to TriMet — anytime you run a railroad, you’re responsible for line of sight.”

After the derailment, TriMet had workers on the ground inspecting the tracks.

TriMet pledged to inspect the tracks at busy locations like the Rose Quarter and Gateway Transit Center more frequently during adverse weather conditions.

ODOT said TriMet will also reevaluate its current procedures to make sure they are “adequately prepared” to deal with icy tracks in the future.