Union Pacific trains collide near Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION – Two Union Pacific trains on separate tracks moving in opposite directions somehow struck one another in central Iowa on Thursday morning, causing cars on both trains to derail and spill coal, the company said.

Company spokesman Mark Davis said an eastbound coal train on its way from Wyoming to Crescent, Ill., and a westbound cargo train going from Chicago to Oakland, Calif., collided at 6:20 a.m. Thursday. The impact derailed 13 of the 135 cars on the coal train and 22 of the 106 cars of the intermodal cargo train, which carries ocean-going containers on flatbed cars.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately clear, and it will take several days to determine how much coal was spilled. Davis said there were no injuries.

The crash shut down a section of the company’s mainline tracks near Grand Junction about 60 miles northwest of Des Moines. The tracks are used by about 50 trains a day and are Union Pacific’s main lines between Chicago and the company’s Iowa and Nebraska destinations. Other trains were detoured.

“Conditions are extremely muddy but we will have railcars moved out of the way very late this evening,” he said.

The tracks are expected to reopen late Friday, he said.