Crash Damages Strasburg Steam Locomotive

A screenshot from a Virtual Railfan web camera shows Strasburg 475 after it struck a backhoe

A Strasburg Rail Road steam locomotive was damaged on Wednesday after it collided with a backhoe parked on a spur.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the collision punched a hole in the smokebox of  4-8-0 steam engine No. 475.

The construction equipment involved in the incident was an excavator known as a “trackhoe” that is capable of operating on rails.

The collision was captured live on a Virtual Railfan web camera.

The Trains report said the crash occurred due to switch being left open after a maintenance crew had tied down the trackhoe on the spur, and the failure of the crew to operate the locomotive at restricted speed.

Aside from the smokebox, also damaged were auxiliary metal pieces, the headlight and some components of the trackhoe.

The Trains report said the trackhoe arm did not pierce or damage the steam locomotive’s flues or front flue sheet.

The magazine’s report quoted an unnamed source as saying the damage looks worse than it actually is and the 475 might be back in service as early as next week after it is repaired in the Strasburg shops.

The crash occurred at 11:23 a.m. and involved the first Strasburg passenger train of the day.

The 475 was running around its train at Leaman Place Junction, adjacent to Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor route between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia.

The tourist train operates over 4.5 miles between Leaman Place and Strasburg.

The 475 engine crew typically waves to passengers aboard the train during the runaround move and that might have distracted them from watching the track ahead.

The train was pulled back to Strasburg by an SW8 diesel switcher.

Trains said 2-6-0 No. 89 is expected to pull passenger excursions later this week.

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