Editor’s Note: This story was first published the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 17, and updated with new information from CN Rail on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The main Canadian National Railway line between Edmonton and Saskatoon was put out of service after 13 train cars derailed on the Fabyan trestle bridge near Wainwright, Alta., Tuesday afternoon.
CN Rail said the derailment happened at around 5:40 p.m., as a strong wind storm swept across the province.
CN said a set of wheels on a locomotive at the end of the train also derailed on the bridge, located about 14 kilometres west of Wainwright in east-central Alberta, but the locomotive itself remained upright.
No injuries and no spills or leaks of any dangerous goods were reported, the rail company said.
The RCMP confirmed it had received a report of a train derailment Tuesday near Township Road 542 “towards Trestle Lookout Point.” They said the call came in at 5:50 p.m., and that there was no smoke or fire reported in the area.
On Wednesday morning, it appeared to have been righted and was seen driving down the track and off the bridge. Several sea containers could be seen on the valley floor below the bridge. As the sun came up on Wednesday, a lookout parking lot near the bridge began to fill up as curious gawkers came to see what had happened.
CN said crews are working to remove the derailed cars from the bridge embankment and inspecting 108-year-old bridge to see what repairs need to be done. The cleanup is expected to last all of Wednesday.
CN Rail said winds at the time of the derailment were reported in excess of 100 km/h, but did not say if that was the reason the cars came off the tracks. The RCMP said the cause of the derailment remains unknown.
Witness Jacob Weichel spoke to Global News after posting a photo of the derailment online. He said it was very windy in the area at the time, so much so his truck was being pushed around on Highway 14.
WATCH: A major CN Rail line was put out of service after 13 train cars derailed on the Fabyan trestle bridge near Wainwright. Kent Morrison reports from the scene in central Alberta on Global News at Noon.
Because the major line is out of service, some trains are being re-routed to CN’s east-west Prairie North Line.
This is the second derailment on the bridge in recent history. In January 2012, a CN freight train was crossing the bridge when 31 cars derailed. Several steel tower legs and bracing members were damaged when 17 of the cars fell off the north side of the bridge. About 1,760 feet of track was also destroyed. No one was injured.
A Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigation blamed the derailment on loose and broken rail screws on the track. Several track inspections were done before the incident but no one detected the curve was under stress. CN Rail said it improved its inspection protocols following the derailment.
The steel Fabyan Trestle Bridge was built between 1907 and 1908, and opened to trains the following year. Wainwright is located about 230 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.
This was one of two derailments on Tuesday: the other happened about 250 kilometres southwest near the community of Huxley, and police said that incident was caused by the wind.
— With files from Phil Heidenreich and Sarak Kraus, Global News
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