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Someone must've had jumbo cajones to throw those switchpoints between cars in motion!
Or is it the modern way of 'poling'??
In any case it's the start of a bad day for someone...
Assuming nothing nefarious, I would guess a switch the wasn't quite maintained well enough and that truck assembly picked it and kicked it open. Or possible a remote switch command sent at the wrong time, but unlikely. Imagine if it was a passenger car.
Judging by all the trash on the ROW, the points probably were fouled. How it happened mid-train is beyond me.
Without being able to examine wheel marks, tie marks, switch points, etc., I do have a few potential suspects:
- Switch point gapped (by debris, or by having been bent).
- Switch point out of adjustment due to switch rod bent, broken, or loose.
- Switch stand broken or loose.
- Track out of gauge (possibly due to missing or loose spikes).
- Tie condition at switch.
- Wheel lift caused by debris object.
Considering the amount of debris on the right of way, it would not be surprising to find that it is at least a contributing factor.