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Stillwater County train derailment: Construction on bridge complete, train traffic resumes

Stillwater County train derailment: Construction on bridge complete, train traffic resumes
Posted at 7:19 PM, Jul 23, 2023

STILLWATER COUNTY — Montana Rail Link train traffic across the Twin Bridges railroad bridge has resumed 28 days after the bridge collapsed and train cars spilled into the Yellowstone River.

MRL spokesperson Andy Garland said the first train crossed over the newly constructed bridge around 11:30 Saturday morning.

"Montana Rail Link has resumed operations with the completion of bridge construction efforts at the site of the June 24th derailment near Reed Point. Significant progress was made over the last week of construction," Garland said in a statement on Saturday. "Construction work was completed ahead of initial estimates, allowing service to officially be restored 28 days post outage. As normal train traffic resumes, crews and contractors will remain on site to remove all equipment and material utilized throughout the process and continuing to restore the area. The safety of these crews, our employees, and members of the public remains our top priority as train service is restored."

Reed Point resident Elmer Lloyd said he was very surprised that the bridge was completed as quickly as it was.

“I drove by it a couple of days ago, me and my son, and I said, 'That’s going to take them another couple of weeks at least,' and the next day it’s open,” Lloyd said on Sunday. “No idea it would take that quick for them to fix that railroad bridge.”

Lloyd said having the trains running through Reed Point again feels "normal."

“It’s good to have the train going back and forth again, knowing that business is back in business,” Lloyd said.

Paul O'Neil lives in Canada and is a lifelong railfan. He has loved trains for as long as he can remember.

O'Neil has family in eastern Montana, so he was aware of the derailment as soon as it happened.

“There’s people from all over North America really focused on Montana Rail Link," O'Neil said. “Watching what happened, or seeing what happened, affected a lot of people that had plans to see the Montana Rail Link because well you can’t run trains while there’s a bridge out."

O'Neil said that many people he has met on social media who share the same love of trains that he does were planning on traveling to Montana to get photos of MRL trains before BNSF takes the company over at the beginning of next year.

"The fact that they got this bridge built so quickly is pretty amazing,” O'Neil said.