PRINCETON — A freight train struck a small tractor that was being used for plowing snow Sunday morning at the Princeton depot, damaging the city-owned tractor but injuring no one.
After the train struck an attachment on the tractor just before 8 a.m. Sunday, the city of Princeton worked with Amtrak to set up impromptu locations for loading and unloading of two passenger trains while the depot was occupied by the stopped freight train and BNSF Railroad investigators.
“The railroad has to have their officials involved in it and the train has to stop and everything has to be investigated before it can continue,” Princeton city clerk Pete Nelson said at 12:10 p.m. Sunday. “The train is just pulling out of the station after about 4 hours and 20 minutes.”
He said the incident affected schedules of two Amtrak trains traveling between Chicago and Quincy. However, Amtrak allowed for 15 passengers who were heading to Chicago to get on an eastbound train a couple of miles to the west at Epperson Road, and passengers from a westbound train were allowed to disembark a few blocks to the east at North Euclid Avenue. It was not immediately known if Amtrak’s coast-to-coast trains would be thrown off schedule.
Bureau Putnam Area Rural Transit vans gave passengers rides to and from the depot.
Princeton Fire Department reported the engineers and the tractor driver all refused treatment. Nelson confirmed no one was injured. The railroad put a new crew on its freight train before it continued west.
“We’re just very thankful things were not much more serious … We’re glad we were able to accommodate people. Everybody was patient,” Nelson said.
It was the second time this month that the city of Princeton has helped Amtrak deal with a schedule problem. When two trains carrying about 400 passengers got stuck snow massive snowdrifts in northeastern Bureau County, making national news, the city helped passengers as buses were brought in to help them get on buses and continue on their way.
It was the second train versus vehicle collision in a week in Bureau County. Last week, a Bureau County woman was charged after her car was struck at a crossing in Sheffield.