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Union Pacific still investigating Central El Paso derailment; will pay damages

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:49:40 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:30:25 PM CST

Work to repair damage by derailment begins

EL PASO, Texas -

Union Pacific officials said Tuesday they still did not have cost estimates for the damage caused by a train derailment earlier this month in Central El Paso.

The company's Public Affairs Director, Ivan Jaime, said they are still investigating the cause of the derailment. "It's still a very fluid situation," he said.

Once investigators determine the cause of the accident, the results will be turned over to the Federal Highway Administration and will become public record as is required by law, said Jaime. He said he could not provide a timeframe for the results.

The train was traveling through El Paso on Oct. 18, 2013 when seven of the train cars derailed and one of them struck a pillar supporting I-10 west at the Cotton overpass.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been working to repair the pillar and the damaged infrastructure. Union Pacific will reimburse TxDOT for the repairs, said Jaime.

City officials said the derailment did not require extra police officers so the City was not owed reimbursement. City Manager Joyce Wilson said on-duty police officers responded to the scene.

TxDOT is considering placing a barrier wall to protect I-10 pillars in the area from crashes.

Jaime said this was the first major train derailment in the El Paso area in 10 years. Two I-10 westbound lanes remain closed at the Cotton exit while crews work on repairs. Union Pacific and TxDOT officials said they should reopen after Nov. 9.

El Paso has historically been a major stopping point for Union Pacific trains. But that will soon change as Santa Teresa becomes the new "big pit stop" for trains traveling through the area, said Jaime.

The trains will soon refuel and stop for mechanical inspections there instead of El Paso. That also means 250 of the 500 Union Pacific employees in El Paso will be transferred to Santa Teresa, said Jaime.

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