225 passengers evacuated from ACE train after mudslide blocks tracks in Niles Canyon

Zach Fuentes Image
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
225 passengers evacuated from ACE train due to Niles Canyon mudslide
An Altamont Corridor Express train had to be evacuated near Sunol on Tuesday after a mudslide blocked the train's railroad tracks.

SUNOL, Calif. (KGO) -- A mudslide kept more than 220 people stuck on an Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train in Niles Canyon for nearly four hours on Tuesday.

RELATED: Another ACE train blocked by mudslide in Niles Canyon, all trains canceled Wednesday

Frustrated passengers were eventually transferred to another train while their initial train destined for San Jose stayed on the tracks, interrupting all afternoon service.

MORE: Passengers rescued out of creek after ACE Train derailed near Sunol

There were no injuries reported as a result of the slide, however, passengers said their commute and most of their day was a nightmare.

"I'm just disgusted because I just wasted a whole day, sitting on that train," said passenger George McElroy. "Potentially, we could have been in jeopardy."

After a series of storms, many on the Tuesday ACE 05 train were hoping that a day free of rain would bring some normalcy. Instead, their commute was brought to an hours-long standstill thanks to the mudslide.

"You could hear the bump of the rocks in the train," said passenger Bom Rey. "It's so scary."

The morning interruption happened just off of Niles Canyon Road in Sunol between the Pleasanton and Fremont Stations.

"This has been an area that's been very impacted by the floods and storms within the last couple of weeks," Randall West with the Alameda County Fire Department said of Nile Canyon Road, which had only recently opened following a previous slide.

VIDEO: ACE Train survivors describe terrifying derailment near Sunol

First responders call it a near miracle that no one was killed after an ACE Train carrying at least 200 passengers derailed near Sunol Monday night.

ACE said Tuesday morning's events once again closed the road and halted the train around 8:20 a.m.

That's when the train carrying more than 220 people encountered the mudslide and brought their commute to a stop.

"I usually take a nap in the morning on the way because it's early and all I heard was a loud noise and felt a little rumble," said Tyrone Austin who was on the train.

ACE says Union Pacific owns the tracks the train was on and sent a crew out to clean up the mudslide and inspect the safety of the tracks.

In the meantime, afternoon service to other trains was also impacted while a rescue train was brought to the stranded passengers who would later transfered to buses around 12:30 p.m.

MORE: Alameda County honor first responders from ACE train derailment

ACE says they'd been working with its rail commission and Union Pacific to form alternate plans for passengers who used the other trains.

"It's unfortunate, but I think the real fortunate part of this is that we're not experiencing any injuries or hurt passengers at this point," said ACE Train marketing manager David Lipari.

Still, even that positive note wasn't enough to change the moods of frustrated passengers and bring back the time they lost.

"I'm taking a day of vacation, because, it's a wasted day, thanks to ACE," McElroy said of the Tuesday fiasco.

More details are being investigated according to ACE including whether the slide hit the train or if it was the other way around. ACE expects normal operations Wednesday.

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