No one injured in tourist train derailment
A Catskill Mountain Railroad locomotive and flatbed passenger car derailed along the scenic tour train’s Mount Tremper-Phoenicia route, an Ulster County official said Tuesday.
Deputy County Executive Kenneth Crannell said the accident, in which no one was injured, happened about 2:45 p.m. Friday on or near a section of tracks in Mount Tremper known to be in need of repair. But railroad President Ernie Hunt said Crannell was wrong about the location. Hunt said the incident, which he refused to describe as a derailment, happened about halfway between Mount Tremper and Phoenicia.
Crannell said the derailed locomotive had been moved back onto the tracks, about half a mile west of the railroad’s Mount Tremper station in the town of Shandaken, but the flatbed car remained off the tracks. Hunt said later Tuesday that the flatbed car was on the rails.
The tracks, part of the former Ulster & Delaware line, are owned by Ulster County and leased by the railroad.
Hunt said there were about 20 people on the train at the time, and all of them got off without incident. Shandaken Police Chief Chad Storey said town police and fire department personnel helped about six people off the train.
The cause of the derailment was unclear Tuesday. On Monday, the railroad posted online that “unexpected mechanical difficulties forced us to cancel all train rides in Mt. Tremper for the weekend, and we had to turn many people away who traveled a great distance to visit us.”
People seeking refunds for canceled rides should call (845) 688-7400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, the posting stated.
The Catskill Mountain Railroad has been providing scenic train rides in the Mount Tremper-Phoenicia area for more than 30 years, and the rides this past weekend were to be its last in that area. Starting next year, the railroad will operate only on the Kingston-Ulster section of tracks, while a company called Rail Explorers Corp. will offer “rail bike” rides on the Mount Tremper-Phoenicia section.
Crannell said the Catskill Mountain Railroad failed to inform Ulster County of Friday’s incident within 24 hours, as required in the lease agreement. Hunt said the railroad notified the county on Monday, one business day after the incident.
Crannell said the derailment is being investigated by the county and by the New York State Department of Transportation.
“A train derailment is a serious concern,” he said. “What’s most important to us is the health and safety of the riders.”