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Passenger train locomotive derails at edge of rail yard

[03/26/01] The first passenger train service to stop in Vicksburg in 33 years left the tracks Monday morning near the entrance to the Kansas City Southern rail yard.

The American Orient Express, a 1950s-style luxury train line, was arriving in Vicksburg for it’s sixth visit since March 9 around 2 a.m., when the the locomotive left the track at Levee and Depot streets.

A company spokesman, Bruce Isaac, rail line coordinator, said damage was confined to the locomotive. No injuries were reported, he said.

“Everybody was asleep and nobody even noticed,” Isaac said.

The 15-passenger cars carry about 100 passengers along routes from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans and back. During half-day stops in the city, passengers are provided excursions to the Vicksburg National Military Park, the Old Court House Museum and the Gray and Blue Naval Museum.

Isaac said the derailment this morning was the first problem for the tourist-based service along this route, but said that the accident was minor.

“The locomotive just dropped off the track,” he said.

The tracks used by the American Orient Express in Vicksburg are owned and maintained by Kansas City Southern Railway. No KCS spokesman was available for comment.

The arrival of the American Orient Express in Vicksburg came on the heels of announcements from Amtrak in February that plans are in the works to start a new route through the city as soon as improvements are made to tracks currently used primarily for freight service.

Under Amtrak’s proposal, the train through Vicksburg would start in New York City and travel south and west to Meridian. Once reaching Mississippi, the train would be split, with one section continuing south to New Orleans and the other part headed west through Jackson, Vicksburg, Monroe and Shreveport to Fort Worth and Dallas.