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Update: No cause yet for freight train derailment in Hughson. Amtrak service changes

Clean up For Derailed Train Starts

Crews work to clear and repair a section of Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line at Hatch Road and Santa Fe Avenue north of Hughson, CA after a train derailment Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018.
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Crews work to clear and repair a section of Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line at Hatch Road and Santa Fe Avenue north of Hughson, CA after a train derailment Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018.

Authorities on Sunday had not determined what derailed a freight train late Saturday in Hughson, leaving behind a pile of wrecked boxcars and creating problems for drivers and Amtrak passengers through the next few days.

About 30 boxcars were derailed about 11:20 p.m. Saturday near Santa Fe Avenue and East Hatch Road, said Lena Kent, a spokeswoman from BNSF Railway. Some of the boxcars remained upright after the derailment; others came to rest on their sides.

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Crews work to clear and repair a section of Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line north of Hatch Road and the town of Hughson, CA after a train derailment Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. Bicek Photography

Kent said the cause of the derailment remained under investigation Sunday. Some of the box cars were hauling steel beams. No injuries were reported.

The freight train was heading north to Stockton from Barstow in Southern California.

She said Santa Fe will remained closed in this area at least until Monday morning; possibly Monday afternoon. She said BNSF crews will remain at crash site repairing two signal bungalows damaged in the crash.

The signal bungalows are the silver metal boxes found near railroad crossings that house equipment to ensure the railway is operating safely. Kent said repairs are time-consuming, so it's anticipated the railroad crossing near Santa Fe and Hatch to be closed until Thursday.

That will cause problems for Amtrak passenger trains that use the same railway. On Sunday, Amtrak officials issued a service alert for its passengers traveling through the San Joaquin Valley.

Amtrak San Joaquin trains will not be able to operate between Merced and Stockton. Substitute transportation using chartered buses will move Amtrak passengers between Merced and Stockton.

These chartered buses will not stop at the Modesto or Turlock-Denair area stations. Amtrak officials said passengers to and from the Modesto or Turlock-Denair area stations should make their way to the stations in Merced or Stockton.

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Crews work to clear and repair a section of Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line at Hatch Road and Santa Fe Avenue north of Hughson, CA after a train derailment Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. Bicek Photography

Initially after the derailment, authorities were concerned about a powder that spilled from the train wreckage. But authorities later confirmed the spilled material was not hazardous.

Deputy Royjindar Singh, a Stanislaus County sheriff's spokesman, said the spilled material appeared to be soda ash. Kent from BNSF said she did not know what was spilled, but it was confirmed that material was not hazardous.

Also known as sodium carbonate, soda ash is a grayish-white, anhydrous and odorless water-soluble powder. It's used as raw material in the manufacturing of glass, detergents and other industrial products.

BNSF crews remained at the crash site removing the derailed boxcars. Santa Fe was closed between Hatch and Leedom roads. Hatch was closed closed at Santa Fe and Baldwin Road.

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