Trains rolling again, investigation underway after Sumner County derailment

Crews respond to a derailment Saturday, March 4, north of Wellington in Sumner County, Kansas.
Crews respond to a derailment Saturday, March 4, north of Wellington in Sumner County, Kansas.(KWCH)
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 5:21 PM CST
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RIVERDALE, Kan. (KWCH) - Trains again are rolling on a stretch of track in Sumner County following a derailment over the weekend.

Union Pacific reported about 18 grain cars were involved in the derailment that happened about 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Riverdale, just north of Wellington. There were no injuries nor need for a Hazmat response.

Still, some nearby residents were shaken by the incident some initially thought was an earthquake. Some reported hearing a loud “boom.” Others said they didn’t hear anything.

Living near railroad tracks, Linda Schnug didn’t think anything of a loud noise she heard Saturday morning.

“We live here. You know, we hear them slam on the brakes and ‘thump, thump, thump,’ and that stuff. So, you know, I don’t think anything of it when I hear that stuff, you know. It was lout, but it didn’t faze me,” Schnug said.

Union Pacific is investigating the derailment. Prior to the emergency, the company issued a statement addressing derailments with the subject at the forefront of national conversation after disaster struck in East Palestine, Ohio.

“Track-related derailment prevention is the forefront of what Union Pacific’s engineering department does every day, and in the last 10 years, Union Pacific’s track-caused derailments have seen a 55% reduction,” the railroad said. “While this is an accomplishment to be proud of, it has not stopped us from continuing to use training and technology to drive that number to zero. Derailment prevention occurs many ways, but when it comes to track, it boils down to inspection, assessment and capital renewal.”

In Sumner County, crews worked Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning to get derailed train cars removed and tracks repaired. Nearby residents said they’re thankful for crews’ work to reopen the track as quickly as they did.

“It was a lot of work to get it done, but finally, they got it done and it was all opened up again. I enjoy seeing the trains go by, always have,” Riverdale resident Ruby Uglow said.