ACE train back on track, federal investigators search derailed cars

- For the first time since Monday evening's train derailment, ACE trains are running again from the Central Valley into the Bay Area. Nine people were injured in the accident, four of them seriously. 

Workers removed the two derailed ACE train cars that derailed in Niles Canyon Monday night, one of which was partially submerged into Alameda Creek. Authorities said Tuesday that it was a mudslide, likely from recent heavy rains, and a fallen tree that may have triggered the train to derail.

Federal investigators spent Wednesday morning touring the ACE train car that had derailed Monday at a rail yard in Fremont.

ACE Spokesman Steve Walker said they plan to send the damaged train back to Stockton for further assessment.

ACE train passengers noticed trains were a little less crowded Wednesday morning.

An ACE train representative says usually on a Wednesday morning there are 650 people on board their first train.

On Wednesday morning they had about 400 riders, so ridership was down about 250 passengers, but most of the passengers KTVU talked to Wednesday morning had no reservations about getting on the train.

Walker says it may be a combination of people not knowing service was back to normal, or some may still be a little anxious about getting on board after Monday's derailment.

The tracks through Niles Canyon re-opened around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday.

As the train pulled into the station an announcement on board could be heard saying that the train would be traveling more slowly through the Niles Canyon, and that there were new speed restrictions in that area as a precaution.

The representative said normally the speed limit in that area is 40 miles an hour, but in light of what happened Monday, those trains would be passing through Niles Canyon at just 10 miles an hour. That led to some delays Wednesday morning.

The dents and debris on display drew photographers and train enthusiasts to the site, like Brian Bothun of Carpenteria.

“The damage is a little more than I thought,” Dothun said. “You can see the car that went into the creek and you can see the roof is open.”

Another photographer, Gerry Low-Sabado, said capturing the aftermath made her think of the passengers who were onboard.

“I am just imaging the people inside and the fear at that moment,” she said. “How brave they had to be to gather their wits and get out of there really quick.”

Investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration spent Wednesday touring rail car 3309. It is littered with broken glass, mud, and blood stains inside. It’s believed a mudslide brought down a tree on the tracks and caused the train to derail in Niles Canyon on Monday night.

“The ultimate goal is to determine exactly what happened,” Walker said.

He said investigators will try to determine if the mudslide happened before the train got to the site or if the mudslide happened when the train was going through.

The company said their hope is to put rail car 3309 back into service, depending on the damage. The car itself would be costly to replace. A new rail car would take two years and come with a $2 million price tag.

Walker said ACE would have a better estimate on the total of damages next week.


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