NTSB report: No evidence of criminal activity in Tempe train derailment

The FBI found no evidence of criminal activity in a July 29 freight train derailment and fire that extensively damaged a century-old railroad bridge in metro Phoenix, according to a federal report released Sept. 10.

A National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report did not identify a probable cause for the derailment of 12 cars that were part of a Union Pacific train of three locomotives and 97 cars crossing Tempe Town Lake along the Salt River in Tempe.

“All aspects ... of the accident remain under investigation,” the report stated.

Some of the derailed cars carrying lumber and other cargo caught fire, causing the south end of the bridge to partially collapse.

No train crew members were injured. One emergency responder was taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation.

SkyFOX aerial view of the train derailment and fire over Tempe Town Lake on July 29, 2020.

Union Pacific estimated the cost of the damage at $8 million to $12 million, the NTSB report said.

The railroad in mid-August restored rail service over the bridge, which passes over the Rio Salado Parkway next to the lake, a popular recreation area.

The bridge is part of a spur rail line that serves metro Phoenix. The spur connects with Union Pacific’s Texas-to-California mainline that crosses southern Arizona.

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Continuing Coverage


Regulators approve repair of Tempe Town Lake bridge damaged by train derailment

An Arizona regulatory panel has approved a new plan to rebuild a railroad bridge over Tempe Town Lake that partially collapsed in a train derailment.


Rail bridge over Tempe Town Lake partially collapses following train derailment and fire

Tempe Fire Department officials say the derailment happened around 6 a.m. on July 29 and involved a Union Pacific train. At least 90 firefighters responded to the scene. No injuries were reported.