Danedri Thompson
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A train car carrying soybean oil came off the tracks Friday at New Century AirCenter, but Johnson County Airport Commissioner Lee Metcalfe said the derailment was not a cause for alarm.

Old rails are to blame for a train derailment at New Century AirCenter last Friday. Derailments aren’t uncommon at the air center. Staff photo by Brandon Humble

“We had a rail break and cause the wheels of a couple of cars to come off the track,” Metcalfe said. “Cars were leaning a bit, but didn’t fall over… The rail actually broke – snapped in two.”

Derailments are not a rare occurrence at New Century, he said.

“We probably derail once or twice a year. It’s mostly due to the age of our track,” he explained.

New Century officials are slowly replacing rail that was originally built for trains of the early 20th Century, but that takes time and money.
“We’re gradually bringing it up to standards as we’re able to afford,” Metcalfe said.

The trains that travel through New Century do not carry hazardous materials. And the trains are traveling at such low speeds, the cars are unlikely to tip over when their wheels leave the track.

“In the 22 years, I’ve been here, we’ve never actually spilled anything out of a car,” Metcalfe said.