CANADIAN NATIONAL workers begin the removal of several train cars that derailed on Friday, Oct. 30, just east of Durand. This photo, which was shot from the New Lothrop Road crossing, shows workers in the process of lifting the displaced train cars back onto the tracks. (Independent Photo/GRAHAM STURGEON)
Depot Survives Derailment Close Call
By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer
Canadian National workers in Durand finished clearing and repairing the railroad tracks near Durand Union Station (DUS) early Saturday, Oct. 31, following a partial train derailment that occurred early Friday, Oct. 30, sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. The 155-car Canadian National-owned freight train was traveling from Port Huron to Battle Creek with ‘finished automobiles,’ according to CN representative Patrick Waldron.
There were no injuries, though a portion of track in the Depot train yard was damaged in the accident, along with a loading platform. The derailment involved 14 cars, spread out over a roughly quarter-mile stretch east of the Depot. The first train car left the tracks in the Depot train yard and came to rest on the ‘Diamond’ track intersection, with the majority of cars derailing east of the E. Main Street crossing. The Oak, E. Main and New Lothrop Road crossings were all closed as a result of the crash, with the E. Main Street crossing the last to cleared.
While CN is still investigating the cause of the incident, Depot representatives believe that the accident began when the train somehow fractured the track, causing the first car to derail and leading to the chain reaction. It is suspected that the train conductor “threw the air brake” while passing through the yard, at roughly 40 mph, which CN representatives said “could have caused the derailment.”
Depot archivist Mike Boudro heard the derailment from his home on Mackinaw Street and said it sounded like an earthquake. He was surprised at the relatively small amount of damage. The Durand area experienced a more severe train derailment in 2011, when a Canadian National train derailed and leaked hydrochloric acid into the surrounding countryside. That incident led to an evacuation, but no injuries were ultimately reported.
“If this happened 10 times, the damage would normally be much worse,” said Boudro Friday afternoon. “It missed the new signals and it only damaged the platform and a piece of the track. The train just missed the Depot by four or five feet. We were very lucky.”