Disconnected air hose stops trains in its tracks in Waukesha

Published on: 8/19/2014

A Canadian National train made the kind of unscheduled stop that had Waukesha driver's wondering what was up late Monday, Aug. 18.

The southbound freight train suddenly began braking as the front half of it moved past the Grand Avenue crossing near Williams Street at about 11:20 p.m., eventually coming to a complete stop with the last car still partially blocking that crossing and the rest of the train fully blocking the crossings on West Avenue and Sunset Drive.

It was the beginning of a roughly two-hour delay as the CN crew began walking the tracks to find a malfunction that had forced the 155-car train's air-brake system to bring everything to a grinding halt.

Patrick Waldron, a communications official for the railroad, said Tuesday that the crew eventually traced the problem to a disconnected air hose between two freight cars.

For Waukesha drivers traveling on the southside of the city, the stilled train came as a bit of a surprise. At various times during the delay, cars could be seen at each crossing waiting for some moments before deciding to find a route around the long train.

One driver heading northbound on West Avenue had waited several minutes at the crossing, until he was told that the train had already been still for almost an hour at that point. 'I guess I'll go around under the bridge (at Newhall Avenue),' he said.

The Newhall bridge, just east of the West Avenue intersection, was the quickest way for eastbound and westbound drivers to move past the problem. The crossings at White Rock Avenue and points further north, including Highway 18 near Frame Park, were not impacted by the stoppage, and the train had just barely cleared CN's junction with Wisconsin & Southern's track near Grand Avenue.

Waukesha police reported that there were no incidents that resulted from the blocked roads.