BNSF operations slowed by flooding in Burlington, Iowa

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BURLINGTON, Iowa — BNSF Railway’s Ottumwa Subdvision has felt the wrath of the Mississippi River, as its waters have covered tracks in downtown Burlington, Iowa. Trains have continued to operate, although at a greatly reduced speed.

The river crested at 24.45 feet on Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. That same day, a barrier that is part of the levee system failed, sending water into a four- to six-block area of downtown. Railroad operations were not affected, since the tracks are outside of the levee system used to protect the downtown area.

With electric power to switches shut off, trains are being walked through the area at 5 p.m. Hi-rail inspections and a BNSF superintendent on site relayed information to trains, informing passing trains via radio when their last car or distributed power units would clear the flooded area.

Pete Kates of Minier, Ill., drove 150 miles with sons John, 12, and Dan, 15, as well as friend Lynn Meredith to view the operations.

“It was pretty surprising,” John Kates said, “I thought it would mess up the electrical systems and traction motors.” Said Pete Kates, “I've seen photos of trains in floods but I've never seen one. It’s pretty amazing.”

The BNSF has not had a good week in the Midwest, with manifest train H-GALTUL hitting a washout near the bridge at Mendon, Mo., on May 31, closing both main tracks on the former Santa Fe transcon's Marceline subdivision.

On the North side of Burlington, the Burlington Junction Railway is unable to access the BNSF interchange due to the flooding and a flood wall placed over its former Rock Island line.

In Keokuk, Iowa, 40 miles to the south, the Keokuk Junction Railway is out of service with water over the tracks at Hamilton, Ill.

This has been the worst Midwest flooding along the river since 1993.


NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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