FAIRBANKS - Seven cars of a 47-car Alaska Railroad train derailed at 5 am this morning near the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Experimental Farm.
Initial reports indicated that about 700 feet of track were damaged and seven cars were derailed.
No one was injured.
Curly Parker, yardmaster in Fairbanks, said this morning that he could only speculate on the cause of the accident. It appeared that a draw bar that linked two cars together slid from position as the train crossed the old Chena Pump Road, now the access road to the experimental farm fields, Parker said.
The draw bar probably caught on the crossing and tipped the cars off the track, Parker said.
Parker said between 20 and 30 people - "everybody we could get a hold of" - were working this morning to clear and repair the track and remove the disabled cars. Depending upon how smoothly the clean up operation proceeds, he expects to have the track open and repaired within 12 hours.
"We should have it cleared up tonight," he said.
The train was traveling from anchorage carrying gasoline, groceries, truck parts, empty tanks and miscellaneous other items, Parker said.
At least one train from Anchorage will be delayed while the track is repaired, parker said.
He asked that onlookers keep away from the accident to allow repair crews room to work.
A variety of methods may be used to clean up the track, depending upon how far off the track the cars have been pushed, parker said. Cranes, forklifts and tractors, along with some heavy duty hydraulic jacks may be required to lift the cars back onto the track or put them on other cars to haul back to the yard.