Beaumont, CA - The City of Beaumont was significantly impacted by the events from today’s incident involving Union Pacific Railroad. First, we would like to assure our residents that we are just as concerned about the events that occurred today as you are.
The City of Beaumont and the Beaumont Police Department will be carefully reviewing this incident to determine how this situation occurred and how incidents like this can be prevented in the future.
Currently, we are collecting all the information that led to today’s events and the response by both Union Pacific Railroad, Cal Trans, and our department.
What we do know so far, is that our department was notified that a train was stopped on the tracks at 2:48p.m., at 2:49p.m., police dispatch contacted the emergency number for Union Pacific Railroad to notify them of the stopped train. It is standard practice for our agency to communicate with the railroad in this manner, regarding issues with railcars or any other incidents affecting the railway within the City of Beaumont.
At the time of our call to Union Pacific Railroad, we were told they were unaware of any issues with trains in our area and would attempt to get in touch with the train operators. While we were waiting for additional information from Union Pacific, the streets became severely congested, and our dispatch center began to receive numerous calls reporting congested traffic on area streets. Officers were dispatched to determine where the train was stopped, and which areas of the railway were impacted. It was discovered the train was blocking traffic at three locations: including Pennsylvania near the I10 Freeway, California Avenue, near Luis Estrada and Viele Avenue, also near Luis Estrada.
The blockage, in addition to preplanned freeway off-ramp closures from Cal Trans, effectively created only two options for residents to move around the blocked railway. In response to the severe congestion some of our officers were directed to position themselves on the south end of the City to respond to 911 or other high priority calls. The remaining officers on duty were responding to other calls for service within the City, including incidents related to the traffic issues being caused by the congestion.
At approximately 5:00p.m. and having very little information from Union Pacific about the nature of the blockage and the expected duration, the Police Department began calling for extra resources to respond to intersections in the City to assist with traffic control. On coming shift officers were also delayed by the rush-hour traffic congestion, which further delayed response to clear these intersections.
While the situation was unfolding, the Police Department initiated an Incident Command System to evaluate the situation and determine routes traffic could be directed to move some of the congestion out of the area. We were also attempting to contact local railroad representatives to get additional information about the situation and estimates on when the train could be cleared. We assure you our teams were working diligently to respond and alleviate the situation with the resources and abilities we had at our disposal. The area where the train was stopped, and the volume of vehicles in that timeframe quickly oversaturated the few roadways not directly impacted by the train. Once sufficient personnel was in place to coordinate vehicle movement at multiple locations simultaneously, officers were able to move some of the congestion out of the area.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. after numerous calls to Union Pacific Railroad for updates, we were notified a crew was on site and would be moving the train within 30 minutes, that timeline then moved into over an hour as we were told the crews had discovered the train had been tampered with and there was another mechanical issue that prevented the train from being moved yet again. Finally, at approximately 9:00 p.m. the Beaumont Police Department was notified the train had been moved and the intersections were clear.
We thank everyone for their patience today, we know emotions were high, but we are thankful there were no reported injuries and other then the lengthy traffic backups, we were able to respond to all emergency calls, as well as get residents out of the area and back home.