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Crane removed from BNSF tracks; Metra restores service

The boom arm mobile crane is supported across three tracks Metra's BurlingtNorthern SantFe tracks near Westmont statijust west Cass Avenue

The boom arm of a mobile crane is supported across the three tracks of the Metra's Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks near the Westmont station just west of Cass Avenue after the unit it was on tipped over, disrupting commuter service to the western suburbs. The crane was lifting a new overhead railroad signal at the time when it tipped over. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 15, 2012 7:40PM

Metra restored service to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line with delays after a crane lifting a crossing signal had fallen onto the tracks in west suburban Westmont.

Trains had begun moving just before the evening rush hour Wednesday, but Metra advised that schedules would be disrupted and delays possible.

The crane, which was working on overhead railroad signals, tipped over and fell onto the tracks at Burlington Avenue and Grant Street in Westmont, just west of Cass Avenue, shortly before noon, according to a release from the village. No one was injured.

The mobile crane was lifting the cantilevered signal and tipped over onto the rails blocking all three tracks, the release said. BNSF personnel have been working to remove the cantilevered signal and the damaged crane.

All passenger and freight railroad traffic remained stopped in both directions as of 3:15 p.m. The minimum estimated time to clear the tracks is now 4 p.m., the village said, although the process could take much longer.

Metra had no timetable for resumption of service as of 3:15 p.m.

Metra BNSF Train No. 1239, scheduled to depart Chicago at 3:18 p.m., has been canceled;

Other affected trains include:

— Outbound Train 1235, scheduled to depart Chicago at 2:30 p.m. will not operate past West Hinsdale;

— Inbound Train 1266, scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 1:47 p.m., will stop west of Westmont;

— Outbound Train 1233, scheduled to arrive in Aurora at 2:59 p.m. is not operating past Highlands;

— Outbound Train 1237, scheduled to depart Chicago at 2:34 p.m., in not operating past Hinsdale;

— Inbound train 1268, scheduled to depart Aurora at 2:20 p.m., has not departed and will not operate past Belmont;

— Outbound train 1231, scheduled to arrive in Aurora at 1:53 p.m., is stopped at Hinsdale; and

— Inbound Trains 1270 and 1272 will depart late.

There were no injuries to BNFS personnel or bystanders, according to the village.

Damage is primarily to BNFS equipment, although there is also damage to Verizon fiber optic cables, and Verizon service has been affected.

The Westmont Police and Westmont Fire departments, Metra Police, Commonwealth Edison and Verizon are assisting at the scene.

At the Hinsdale Metra station, people who were supposed to be on their way to meetings and tennis tournaments, or hoping to spend the day sightseeing, instead waited patiently.

“I’ve been waiting here for an hour,” Judy Mulvenna of Hinsdale said a little before 2 p.m. She was heading to Chicago and was going to be late for a meeting.

When she heard the trains are delayed because a crane fell on the tracks near Westmont, Mulvenna decided just to drive instead.

Trista Wilson went to Chicago for a morning interview. She was on the westbound train heading back home to Lisle, when the train stopped in Hinsdale and told the passengers this was the last chance to get off and they wouldn’t be able to get back on.

About 75 percent of the passengers got off at the Hinsdale station, Wilson said. Then the train pulled forward, but there was an outcry from the passengers who had stayed on the train.

“They thought the train was going to stay in the station, and they could get off later if they wanted to,” Wilson said.

When they were told the train was moving west just about 100 feet to clear the street crossings and would stay there between stations, Woodward said another 20 people got off.

Wilson had not figured out how she would get the rest of the way home.

Paul Hanson was trying to hail a cab for his family. Paul and Candace Hanson, who live in Naperville, wanted to spend the day taking the train with their two sons, ages 4 and 2.

When they got on the train in LaGrange for the return trip, they were not warned there was a problem on the tracks.

“They didn’t tell us anything,” Candace Hanson said.

But they soon heard other passengers talking about how there was something blocking the tracks ahead. The train continued to Hinsdale.

“It just stopped right here,” Paul Hanson said. “They told us we could get off here, but not get back on. They didn’t give us an e.t.a. so we decided to get off and hail a cab.”

“The boys were supposed to have their first train ride today, now they’ll get their first cab ride, too,” she said.

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