Light rail train derails after Obama visit

A Minneapolis light rail test train derailed shortly after President Obama lauded the expansion of the system, the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minn., reports.

Obama touted the expansion of Minnesota’s Metro light rail system to St. Paul, which is scheduled to open in June, as an example for the nation to follow. Hours later, a train ran off the tracks.

“I just had a chance to take a look at some of those spiffy new trains,” Obama said Wednesday of the expansion of Minneapolis’ Metro light rail.

“They are nice and they’re energy efficient. They’re going to be reliable. You can get from one downtown to the other in a little over 30 minutes instead of when it’s snowing being in traffic for two hours."

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Obama said other cities should follow Minneapolis and St. Paul’s lead in expanding public transit access.

“More Americans should have access to the kind of efficient, affordable transit you’re going to have with the Green Line,” Obama said. “There’s no faster way or better way for Congress to create jobs right now and to grow our economy right now, and have a positive impact on our economy for decades than if we start more projects and finish more projects like this one.”

The Press reported Friday that less than two hours after Obama made his remarks, a test train that was operating on the Minneapolis Metro Green Line ran off the rails in St. Paul.

A spokesperson for the transit agency attributed the incident to a snow build up on the new tracks.

"Wheels on the lead car came off the tracks because of snow that had accumulated in the rail right of way," Metro Transit spokesman Drew Kerr said in a statement, according to the paper.

Kerr told the paper that incidents involving derailments have been rare on the Minneapolis light rail system’s existing route.

"For the Blue (Hiawatha) Line, in 10 years, this has happened once in downtown Minneapolis,” he said. “Obviously, the conditions we've had for the last couple of days are more challenging than most, as evidenced by the roads."