9 hospitalized after BART train derails and catches fire in East Bay, officials say

ByABC7 Bay Area Digital Staff and Leslie Brinkley, Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Tuesday, January 2, 2024
Track damage 'not extensive' after Monday's derailment, BART says
BART says it's making progress getting a derailed train back on the tracks.

ORINDA, Calif. (KGO) -- BART says it's making progress getting a derailed train back on the tracks. The eight-car train partially derailed and caught fire Monday morning near the Orinda station, sending nine people to the hospital.

UPDATE: Normal BART service resumes after officials say 9 hospitalized in East Bay train derailment, fire

A giant crane was brought in Monday night to lift this derailed BART car back onto the tracks. Two lanes of eastbound Highway 24 were closed to accommodate the heavy equipment. BART says damage to the track is not extensive.

"I would say there's a good chance we could return to normal service in the morning and if not, single tracking using one of the two tracks which would create a 10-20 minute delay," said BART spokesperson Jim Allison.

Two eastbound lanes of state Highway 24 in Orinda were closed Monday evening to make way for a crane that will be used to clear a BART train that partially derailed and caught fire on New Year's morning.

The eastbound lanes were closed at about 4:30 p.m. between Wilder Road and St. Stephens Drive, according to Caltrans.

BART spokesperson Jim Allison said a crane is being set in place to remove the damaged trains. He says BART is working with Caltrans and the CHP.

It's unknown when the two eastbound lanes nor the BART tracks will officially reopen, as crews will be working overnight.

"...so that the crane can get into place and the operation would be to lift that car that is derailed, and to re-rail it, and then to eventually move that train, incident train, to a yard where it can be inspected," Allison said.

As of 7:10 p.m., two BART train cars that derailed in Orinda were successfully put back onto the tracks by a crane, according to an update from BART.

The cars will be reattached to the cars that did not derail, and the train will be towed away from its location on the eastbound tracks just outside the Orinda station.

Repairs to the tracks have been begun and one-way traffic, at a minimum, is anticipated for Tuesday morning, BART said in an update on its website, with full yellow line service depending on the speed of repairs.

Allison initially said the work could take six hours from when the crane arrived and when officials clear the freeway.

Passengers are encouraged to have a backup plan just in case.

BART officials said in the noon update on Monday that a bus bridge is being provided to cover the affected route. Passengers traveling from SFO will need to offboard at Rockridge, and board a bus to the Walnut Creek station.

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Passengers traveling from Antioch will need to offboard at Walnut Creek and take a bus to the Rockridge station.

AC Transit provided free bus service to cover BART station stops between Walnut Creek and Rockridge until service ended Monday night, officials said.

The bus bridge made stops between the two stations in both directions.

All other BART lines are not impacted, the agency said.

The Orinda and Lafayette BART stations remained closed as of 5 p.m. Monday.


Officials said nine passengers were taken for medical evaluation after the train car derailed and caught fire near Orinda.

The transit agency had initially reported that no one was injured after the derailment, which happened shortly after 9 a.m. on the eastbound Yellow Line between the Lafayette and Orinda stations.

"A number of people were transported to medical facilities for evaluation following this incident. Based on those initial reports from first responders there were no major injuries," BART said in a noon update.

The rail service posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the partial derailment happened after 9 a.m. between the Orinda and Lafayette stations.

Two of the train cars also caught on fire, which was extinguished by the Orinda Fire Department.

The derailment occurred after a computer failure prevented the train from automatically changing routes at an interlocking.

"The operations center was unable to communicate with the interlocking to move the tracks into the proper position, so they instructed the train operator to stop the train and offboard and manually crank the tracks into position," Allison said.

The train's operator switched the train's route manually, as instructed, before the derailment, according to Allison.

The cause is under investigation by BART and the California Public Utilities Commission.


ABC7 News spoke with many passengers who described the frightening experience. BART says there was a mechanical issue and the passengers say they felt the train stop.

"Not how we want to start 2024. You know you say you want to start with a bang, but not like this," said BART passenger Lia Burrell.

Passengers say the train moved forward, then backward, then people smelled smoke and saw flames.

SKY7 view of partial BART train derailment between Orinda and Lafayette stations.
SKY7 view of partial BART train derailment between Orinda and Lafayette stations.

"And then it smoked on the outside and smoked on the inside of the car. Everywhere you saw, smoke, and then from our view like fire orange popping up, so then we tried to get to the next car," Burrell said.

"And we open our car door, and the next car door was like angled and we tried to open it. And one guy in front of me, the first two people trying to move it. The person behind me was like just 'jump, just jump.' So we just jumped like Mission Impossible, but not in a cool way but in a bad way like scary," she continued.

People tried to get into other cars, but the doors were disabled and they felt the BART car tip.

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Some said they felt like their lives were at risk and they were able to open the door and jump off.

"We all had to kind of jump off a good distance from the train onto the track," said passenger Carmen Barrie.

"It was pretty scary, pretty dramatic and crazy, but we ultimately got out safely," said Alex Marquez, who also rode BART Monday morning.

Several passengers had been in San Francisco celebrating the New Year and were heading back to the East Bay.

Stay with ABC7 News for updates on this developing story.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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