No one was injured, but 700 feet of track near Portage had to be repaired following a 16-car train derailment Saturday evening.

The derailed cars were part of a 113-car train carrying coal destined for the Columbia Energy Center in the town of Dekorra near Portage.

“There was no risk to the public,” said trainmaster Tom Meierhoff with Canada Pacific Rail.

The railroad crossings at Wauona Trail, Superior Street and Ontario Street were blocked for about four hours.

The train originated in Wyoming and was en route from St. Paul to the Portage area.

The cars were derailed along a branch line headed for the energy center; no passenger or other freight railroad traffic was affected, said CP Rail spokesman Andy Cummings.

“Our main line was not impacted,” Cummings said.

On Monday, repair crews were still at the scene, replacing rails and adding granite ballast under the newly repaired tracks.

Several rail cars, damaged in the derailment, lay on their tops or sides near the affected area where they were pushed to the side to allow track repair; the cars will be scrapped.

Coal, emptied from the affected cars, waited in mounds to be collected and placed into different rail cars to complete the journey to the power plant.

Crews had been at work since the derailment and were expected to finish Monday, according to Meierhoff.

Such derailments are rare, according to Cummings.

“We will be conducting a thorough investigation into the cause,” Cummings said.


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For those wondering how they investigate such incidents: