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Two train derailments in Eastern Iowa in two weeks

TAMA COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) — An early morning train derailment outside Belle Plaine in Tama County marked the second derailment in a month in Eastern Iowa.

No one was injured in the early morning 28 car derailment, according to Union Pacific Senior Director of Media Relations, Kristen South.

The same was also true 66 miles away in Stanwood, where the conductors were unharmed in a 35 car derailment that happened on June 6th.

Despite the two, an Iowa DOT Track Inspector, Jeff Secora said these occurrences are rare.

“Unusual, It’s more random. Actually, track safety is greatly improved especially over the last 15 years. A number of mainline derailments and even yard derailments have gone down,” said Secora.

Secora spends his days inspecting tracks across the state along with federal partners. He said over the years these numbers are decreasing.

“They’ve invested a lot of that [money] back into their tracks and by doing so and running big capital programs they’ve vastly improved their track conditions. Which has led to lower derailments numbers,” said Secora.

However, when it does happen the cause isn’t always obvious and the problem isn’t always with the tracks.

“You can have a mechanically caused derailment, you can have a human-caused derailment, somebody does something incorrectly on the tracks and someone can cause a derailment. I mean they’re rarer but they can happen. So any derailment is a concern, it’s certainly a concern for us,” said Secora.

At this time the cause of the Belle Plaine derailment is being investigated.

KWWL reached out to Union Pacific to see if a cause for the Stanwood derailment has been determined. At this time we have not heard back.

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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