Trestle Fire Near New Orleans Disrupts CONO

Passengers traveling on Amtrak’s City of New Orleans are riding a bus between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, after a trestle fire Saturday morning closed the train’s route in and out of the Crescent City.

Although the cause of the fire remains under investigation, it may have been caused by a Canadian National work crew doing welding on the bridge.

Amtrak City of New OrleansAmtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds said bus transportation for passengers on Trains 58 and 59, which link Chicago and New Orleans, was being provided between Jackson and New Orleans.

It is the second time the bus brigade has operated between those two cities. Flooding last month that closed the CN route also put Amtrak passengers on the bus between the two cites.

“We are working on arrangements for future travel,” Leeds said. “All affected passengers will be contacted directly.”

One Amtrak passenger, Tim Lazaroe, told WWL-TV in New Orleans that passengers were told their train would be diverted in Jackson due to a fire.

“They just announced that due to a fire that has closed the rails, all passengers will have to exit the train in Jackson and will be bused to New Orleans,” he said.

The fire along Interstate 10 near the Bonnet Carre Spillway was reported at 8:20 a.m. by the workers, who were grinding rails.

CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said the cause of the fire is being investigated. Waldron said aside from Amtrak trains, the trestle sees four to eight CN freight trains a day.

“I can’t give a timeline when it will reopen,” Waldron said. “You can see from the pictures there is damage that has to be repaired.”

The fire had been extinguished by Saturday afternoon aside from a few hot spots that expected to be put out by Sunday morning.

Officials in St. Charles Parish said they received a phone call from workers on the bridge reporting a fire that started while they were working on the tracks. The workers said they tried to put out the fire but it continued to get worse.

St. Charles Parish spokesman Tristan Babin said the fire was reported contained about 2 p.m.

Port of New Orleans spokesman Matthew Gresham said shipping companies were exploring alternate routes.

“Rail is obviously vital to the Port of New Orleans,” Gresham said. “We move approximately 20,000 to 25,000 containers per year through the port by rail.”

Nearby Interstate 10 remained open during the fire. Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Trooper Melissa Matey said the heavy smoke from the blaze was blowing away from the highway but was being monitored.

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