Train derails, cancels trips Friday, today

LAKE PLACID – A flawed railroad tie caused a minor passenger car derailment here Friday morning.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad board member Jim Ellis said the train left the Lake Placid station heading toward Saranac Lake at about 10:30 a.m. The last passenger car derailed when it passed over a section of track that had gone out of gauge near a large “S” curve on the route.

“When you go out of gauge, it means the rail has spread a little bit because the ties themselves are getting old,” Ellis said. “Wood, after a little while, begins to pull apart, and that’s what it was. One tie pulled apart so we’re going to re-gauge it.”

Ellis said the train was probably only moving about 5 mph when the engineer felt a large bump. He immediately stopped the train and the passengers were evacuated. No one was injured.

All train runs were canceled for Friday and today to give the ASR maintenance crew time to fix the track.

Equipment is expected to arrive from Thendara sometime today, and repairs should be complete later in the day.

Ellis said the accident speaks to a bigger issue of the state’s responsibility to maintain the track, which it owns. The state will reimburse the ASR for the repairs, which Ellis estimates will cost about $3,000.

“This is what we’ve been saying to the state for years,” Ellis said. “If you’re going to allow rails and trails, you’ve got to be able to put the money up that allows us to ensure that the rails are in good shape so we can get people to the trails that the state would like them to access. We’re intent on one thing: The safe operation of the railroad and the operation of trail alongside, going in and out of the rail corridor.”