Tri-Rail expects 'minor delays' today following Thursday's derailed train

Posted on January 29, 2016

By: Erika Pesantes and Adam Sacasa

i-Rail commuters should continue to expect delays Friday as crews fix tracks damaged by a derailed train just north of McNab Road.

One person was injured when the northbound train ran off course after striking debris early Thursday. What the debris was and where it came from was not known.

Early Friday, a Tri-Rail notice said "passengers can expect minor delays throughout today's commute," due to Thursday's accident.

The online bulletin indicated that a single track was being used between the Cypress Creek and Pompano Beach stations. The derailment happened on the tracks between those two stations.

On Thursday, northbound trains weren't traveling any farther than the Cypress Creek station while southbound trains were not traveling farther south than the Pompano Beach station, Tri-Rail spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold said.

The incident was reported at 5:20 a.m. Thursday and sparked a multi-jurisdictional response from agencies including Pompano Beach Fire Rescue, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue and the Broward Sheriff's Office.

First responders found a small fire in the engine and about 2,200 gallons of spilled diesel fuel, said Capt. Greg May, of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

Fifty-six people were evacuated from the train of six cars and two locomotives. One person had minor injuries and was treated at Broward Health Imperial Point, officials said.

Passengers boarded a bus at the scene and were taken to the Tri-Rail station in Pompano Beach to continue their trips.

Nesar Khan, 24, of West Palm Beach, had already dealt with storms in Louisiana on what he described as a "hectic and crazy" flight Wednesday, only to have the commotion continue Thursday as the train he was heading home on went off course.

"It was a wild ride," Khan said about his flight, "I got over that and then I come into this."

Khan described a "big bang noise" and the lights shutting off as the train derailed — and then he spotted a small fire.

"The train basically just slowly shut down," he said.

Edwin Bonilla, 57, of Hollywood, made it off the derailed train and said rescue personnel were asking passengers if they were OK. He had arranged for his boss to pick him up so he could make it to his destination in Deerfield Beach.

"It was a crazy morning so far," Bonilla said.

According to Arnold, the Tri-Rail spokeswoman, the crew reported striking debris before the derailment that caused substantial damage to a railroad track. However, a Tri-Rail train about 15 minutes prior to the accident and a 2:45 a.m. freight train had no problems on the tracks while heading south, she said.

Officials would have to assess the damage on the train tracks and do repair work before hoisting the train back on, Arnold said. It was not yet known whether any of the tracks could resume operation while repairs are underway Friday.

The delays frustrated passengers. Eddie Cody, 24, of Miami, was traveling to Delray Beach on a train behind the derailed one and had to be bussed to the Pompano Beach station.

"I'm going to be super late to work. It's really going to affect my paycheck," he said.

The service interruption also affected Amtrak service and freight train travel.

Earlier this month, a Tri-Rail train car derailed near the Lake Worth station after colliding with a garbage truck. It, too, was an early morning accident, occurring after 6:45 a.m. on Jan. 4.

More than 20 passengers were treated for injuries in that case.

On a regular weekday, about 15,000 commuters use Tri-Rail service, Arnold said.

Advisories and other passenger information is available at or at 1-800-874-7245.

Staff photographer Joe Cavaretta contributed to this report.

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