Rail woes continue amid Delta firefight

Courtesy Dan Ryant

The rails are back open for now, but only to freight trains, not passenger trains, and everyday is a new day on the Delta Fire that continues to threaten tracks.

"It's a fluid situation," Union Pacific Rail spokesperson, Justin Jacobs said. "We're assisting the U.S. Forest Service with the fire."

UPR is providing high rail vehicles and water car support strategically placed in hot spot locations. Local fire deprtments can even tap into the water cars if needed.

"We're protecting our assets, resources and infastructure as well," Jacobs said.

The main line tracks are concrete and are less affected by fire than wooden ties on secondary tracks.

"Anywhere we have wooden ties we're watering those down, as well as communication and signal huts near the rail lines - we're keeping them safe as well," Jacobs said.

Between eight and 15 trains move through this stretch of railroad daily, hauling roughly the equivalent of about 3,000 semi-trucks a day. Now a handful get through at the discretion of fire officials.

"We have a 32,000 mile network. If the trains are far enough out we can reroute them to get them through quicker," Jacobs said.

Amtrak is in worse shape as passenger trains have not run the full length of the route from Seattle to Los Angeles since the fire broke out last week.

"Due to the Delta wildfire north of Redding, California, bus transportation is being provided between Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Sacramento. This alternate transportation is for customers traveling on the Amtrak Coast Starlight," Kimberly Woods of Amtrak Corporate Communications.

Northbound trains from Los Angeles stop at Sacramento. The southbound line from Portland stops at the Klamath Falls station.

Passengers are then bused around the I-5 detour to train stations.

News 10 caught up with Medford resident Jeff Avila and his family in Klamath Falls Tuesday who's been waiting all day to catch a train to Seattle for a vacation.

"We still have to wait for the travelers from Southern California to meet this train that are being bussed. Because of their circumstances it's affecting all of us here," Avila said.

Both Amtrak and Union Pacific officials admit the disruption will continue as long as the Delta Fire burns.

They're relying on U.S. Forestry officials for daily fire briefings to determine the days course of actions.

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