GRAND CANYON - At approximately 11:40 a.m. on Dec. 14, the National Park Service (NPS) responded to a request for assistance from the Grand Canyon Railway at the rail junction with Rowe Well Road three miles inside the park boundary. Upon arriving at the scene, ranger's 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, but eager to finish their trip to the South Rim.
Xanterra South Rim, LLC, a concessionaire 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 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. Although the 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. Railway staff confirmed that the Rowe Well section of track was last inspected Dec. 13.
The NPS is continuing its investigation into the incident.
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