Utica, NY (WIBX) - "We had just left the station, and I think, literally, we were half a mile from the station, [when] my engineer reported a bit of a drag on the engine. At that point, the protocol is to stop, which we did. We got off, assessed the situation and the rear part of the train had come off of the rails."

That was Al Heywood, the conductor of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad train that derailed last night near Union Station in Utica.

According to Heywood, his train, operating as part of the "Polar Express" tour, was traveling at roughly 8 m.p.h. when it derailed, causing three cars to come off the track. The speed limit within the train yard, where the incident occurred, was only 10 m.p.h.


Although there were 370 passengers on the tour, there was only one reported minor injury. A female elf, working for the tour, was knocked against the wall of one of the passenger cars, and was treated at the scene.

Heywood said the track, owned by Mohawk, Adirondack and Northern Railroad, is inspected regularly.

"The crew goes out on a regular basis, and they've got an eagle-eye spotter, as far as seeing what's wrong, or what he senses is wrong and getting out of the vehicle and checking it," Heywood said.

The track is checked by both a spotter and by a geometry car, which rides along the rails and can sense hairline fractures in the track, along with loose bolts and other problems.

As for the situation on the train, Heywood said the mood remained relatively light, thanks to the "Polar Express" crew.

"Santa was somehow miraculously notified that we had derailed and he appeared on the train," Heywood said. "Santa went through the train, just as he would have at the North Pole, chatting with the children, and passed out the silver bells, the first gift of Christmas."

The group hopes to resume the tours by tomorrow afternoon. But for now, an investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

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