Ice Blamed for Partially Derailing Grand Canyon Railway Locomotive, No One Hurt

A buildup of ice on the tracks was blamed for partially derailing a locomotive pulling a passenger train to Grand Canyon National Park. No one was hurt in the incident, and buses were summoned to take the 70 passengers the rest of the way to the park's station.

The call for help came shortly after 11:30 a.m. Monday when the Grand Canyon Railway train was stuck at the rail junction with Rowe Well Road three miles inside the park boundary. When they reached the scene rangers found the train stopped approximately 70 feet beyond the rail junction with one of the locomotive’s four axles no longer on the track. The train’s 70 passengers, four engine crew and three passenger service attendants were unhurt.

Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C, a concessioner in the park, brought in buses to transport the passengers the rest of the way to Grand Canyon Village while railway and NPS crews worked to clear snow and ice in order to get the train’s axle back on the track.

The locomotive involved in the incident returned to Williams, Arizona, early Monday afternoon so that a full inspection could be conducted. A replacement locomotive was brought in to complete the train’s scheduled round trip. Additionally, the train delayed its departure from the Grand Canyon by an hour in order to give passengers the full benefit of their visit to the park.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the incident was caused by a buildup of ice on the tracks, a park release said. Although Federal Railroad Administration requires that tracks such as those in the park be inspected two times per week, Grand Canyon Railway makes every effort to inspect their tracks daily, park officials said, adding that railway staff confirmed that the Rowe Well section of track was last inspected Sunday.

The NPS is continuing its investigation into the incident.