Seven cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train derailed about four miles west of Tehachapi Tuesday morning, sending one down an embankment and leaving mangled track along the side of the mountain.
Special Agent Lee Henning of Union Pacific said the derailment happened between 6 and 6:15 a.m. along tracks hugging the side of the mountain just south of the Highway 58 through the Tehachapi Pass. The area of the derailment was about eight miles east of the Tehachapi Loop in the Golden Hills area.
Henning said about 200 feet of track was damaged in the derailment. An estimated 70 feet of track ended up below the railbed.
Kern County Sheriff and Fire Department personnel responded to the derailment but left the scene by about 7:45 a.m. There were no injuries.
The cause of the derailment is not yet known. Henning said no hazardous materials were on the train.
BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said the train contained “freight of all kinds.” She said she couldn’t be more specific, but a sheriff’s spokesman said the derailed cars carried containers filled with auto parts.
The Tehachapi Pass rail corridor has long experienced congestion and delays, with state officials classifying a rail upgrade as “critical.” The Tehachapi Rail Improvement Project would "double-track" two segments — a total of 1.38 miles — of an existing route linking the Central Valley to points east.
Kern Council of Governments Executive Director Ahron Hakimi said the association supports safety improvements on BNSF and Union Pacific lines and has long supported increasing double-tracking on both sides of Bakersfield. He said increasing capacity through double-tracks is likely to reduce accidents in areas that just have the one track passing through.
— The Californian contributed to this report.