For the transportation industry, timely product delivery is the foundation of success. With the rail industry, derailments can cause critical disruptions of service; freight cannot be delivered, customer service is compromised and revenue is lost. It becomes critical that immediate steps are taken to correct the damage and open the rail line as soon as possible.
At 3:30 a.m. one recent morning, 19 cars on an eastbound Union Pacific unit-coal train derailed in Bonner Springs, KS, about 20 mi. west of Kansas City, MO. The wreck destroyed 800 ft. (243.8 m) of track.
No injuries were reported as a result of the accident. Rail traffic was rerouted over the Burlington Northern line while the wreck was being cleaned up. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Upon notification of the accident, contractor R. J. Corman Derailment Services LLC headquartered in Nicholasville, KY, immediately dispatched a crew and a fleet of equipment to the scene from its emergency response division in Kansas City, KS. Semi-trucks pulling lowboy trailers delivered Cat 583 and 572 sideboom crawlers, along with a 325 trackhoe and a 977 crawler loader.
Other equipment delivered to the site included four bulb-halogen portable light plants and other support equipment necessary to stabilize the site and clear the wreckage. Additional equipment to assist in the cleanup was secured from local contractors in the area.
Both sideboom crawlers are installed with padded tracks to allow safe travel on paved streets. The crawlers are also equipped with cutting torch assemblies, hand tools and chains. The sidebooms and 977 are equipped with winches—all necessary tools for the Corman ground crew.
Historically, railroads brought their own large rail mounted cranes and crews to clear a derailment. Working on good track, a crane would lift and rerail cars or move them entirely off the right-of way. This process was limited by the crane’s awkwardness and by the availability of good track.
The current procedure was revolutionized in the late 1960s when companies utilized Cat crawler pipelayers, such as the Cat 572 and 583, to lift and place cars and locomotives on their wheeled trucks and back on the rails. Under guidance of the experienced ground crew, two crawler cranes can lift a railcar in unison and place it back on the rails or move a railcar to place it back on the tracks.
R.J. Corman Derailment Services LLC has been in the train derailment service since 1983. It currently has 16 emergency response divisions throughout the United States.
Once the right-of way was cleared of spilled debris, the roadbed was prepared and temporary track panels, provided by the railroad, were laid and connected. One mainline was open to rail traffic by 2 p.m. the same day as the derailment, and the rest was scheduled for clearing the following day.