‘Quite a rumble’ – Bennet resident reacts to coal train crash

On Friday, a train derailed just north of Bennet, causing ten cars to derail off of the tracks.

BENNET, Neb. (KLKN) – On Friday, a train carrying coal derailed just north of Bennet.

“I didn’t see anything, but I sure heard it,” Bennet resident Trent Smejdir said. “Quite a rumble. I guess it was towards the rear of the train, but you know, less than probably an eighth of a mile away, you do hear things.”

The railroad tracks had not been used regularly since 2003 – until they were re–activated at the beginning of the new year.

Last year, some Bennet residents expressed concern about the old tracks – a concern that RTSD executive director Roger Figard acknowledged at a December 2020 board meeting.

“There hasn’t been a lot of train traffic and a lot of the crossings in the county are old railroad ties and as trains continue to run, I think we may see the railroad coming in and upgrading those materials from from wooden ties to perhaps a concrete crossing,” Figard said. “We’ll see how that goes.”

The trains carry loads of coal to Nebraska City and Omaha.

“It’s not hazardous material, but you’re concerned [about the] safety for others,” Smejdir said. “There’s a lot of houses pretty close down there, right near the tracks.”

BNSF Railway issued the following statement about the derailment:

BNSF can confirm a coal train derailed near Bennet, NE at approximately 5:20 p.m. CT on Friday, June 25. Initial reports indicate 10 cars derailed, with three on their sides and the remaining seven still upright. There were no injuries and BNSF responders are on scene. Cleanup of the site is ongoing and our primary focus is to address any safety issues. An investigation is underway.”

The cause of the derailment is not known, but the area had been dealing with flash flooding.

Roads parallel to the railroad have been closed down as crews clean the area.

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