BETHEL — Police believe a vandal or vandals damaged two railroad cars which derailed both cars and a third railroad car on Saturday night and caused more than $30,000 in damage, according to Sgt. Eric Hudson, of the Vermont State Police.
In a press release, Hudson said the Vermont State Police from the Royalton barracks responded to a report of a train collision near the intersection of Route 12 and Route 107 in Bethel on Saturday around 10:50 p.m.
When troopers reached the scene, they found three grain cars on a side spur of the train tracks behind Green Mountain Feed. The grain cars appeared to have rolled through the end of the spur and derailed.
New England Central Railroad was contacted and a northbound freight train was stopped short of the village of Bethel so the crew could assess the safety of the tracks prior to proceeding north to St. Albans.
Rail maintenance crews responded and determined that someone had tampered with two loaded grain cars. The brake systems holding the cars in place had been disengaged.
The two cars, with a combined weight of more than 500,000 pounds, rolled from a position north of a third grain car and crashed into it. The force of the collision pushed the southernmost car through a stop and off the end of the rails.
The grain cars stopped short of an embankment at the back of a residential property.
Hudson said the incident could have had “catastrophic consequences” if the brakes on the third car were not engaged.
The car that was derailed was close to the main line of tracks. The tracks had to be evaluated for safety before regular rail traffic trains could resume.
This incident is being actively investigated as a felony vandalism case.
Hudson said there is an initial estimate that found the incident caused more than $30,000 in damage to a local business.
Police did not report any injuries as a result of the incident.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Vermont State Police at the Royalton barracks at 234-9933 or make a report online at http://vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit.
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