Train derails on historic Yukon to Alaska railway

Nineteen people suffered minor injuries when two vintage locomotives and four passenger cars went off the tracks Wednesday on the route of the historic Klondike Gold Rush.

19 people suffered bumps and bruises, tourist train service to resume Friday

A train derailed Wednesday afternoon on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway, leaving several passengers injured. The popular tourist attraction takes passengers on a three-hour, 60-kilometre roundtrip tour out of Skagway, Alaska. (Rhonda Vincent/Facebook)

The investigation into the cause of a derailment on the White Pass and Yukon Route tourist train in Alaska is underway.

Nineteen people suffered minor injuries when two locomotives and four passenger cars went off the tracks around 2 p.m. local time Wednesday.

The vintage rail company hauls hundreds of thousands of tourists every year along the route of the historic Klondike Gold Rush from Skagway, Alaska, into Canada. 

Medical workers went to the scene, where responders outnumbered the injured, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Power was restored to the train, and it brought everyone back to Skagway, about 160 kilometres northwest of Juneau, railroad officials said.

The injured were taken to a clinic in Skagway, said Buckwheat Donahue, tourism director for the municipality. Some already had been released before 6 p.m.

Most of the people on the train suffered "scratches and bruises," he said.

The train is a popular tourist attraction, taking passengers on a three-hour, 60-kilometre roundtrip tour out of Skagway. It climbs to 876 metres at White Pass Summit before it turns around and heads back.

 "We have our own expert coming to diagnose the cause of the incident and we expect to have that diagnosis done by the end of the day today," said John Finlayson, president of the White Pass and Yukon Railway.

He said an official with the American Federal Railroad Administration is also en route to the scene.

There are approximately 7,000 cruise ship passengers in Skagway Thursday and about 3,000 would have taken the train but for now all train service is suspended.

"When we're confident that we can resume safe operations, we'll do that."

The White Pass railway also shuttles hikers off the Chilkoot Trail, a hiking trail between Dyea and Bennett Lake in B.C., but without the usual train service hikers are being transported using rail motor cars.

Finlayson says he hopes to have some answers about the cause of the derailment soon.  

with files from The Associated Press