16 Cars From Train Derail, Spilling Grain

Sixteen cars of a Montana Rail Link freight train derailed near here Monday, spilling grain and shutting down the track for at least a day.

“We still have no idea what caused it, that’s under investigation,” said Lynda Frost, a Montana Rail Link spokeswoman.

The 106-car train was traveling about 20 mph when it derailed in Ponderay, just east of Sandpoint. Seven of the cars flipped on their sides, six more were knocked sideways and another three hopped the track and came to rest upright alongside the rails, Frost said.

The derailment occurred about 9:35 a.m. Some residents near the tracks heard the grinding wheels and cars crashing and called the Bonner County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities said there were no injuries or damage to private property.

The accident damaged 480 feet of side track, and 48 feet of main track, forcing Montana Rail Link to close its main line. Equipment to fix the track and move the derailed cars was expected to arrive late Monday. The railroad hoped to have the track re-opened early this morning, Frost said.

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