A Mending Shift

a bird sings, not because if has an answer to give, but because it has a song to sing … this is my song

Train Derailment or UPS Covering For Ineptness?

This is strangely conspicuous. I have been tracking my UPS Ground package—stuffed with Disney DVDs—from Spartanburg, SC, for a few days now and I suddenly saw an update saying that the train derailed!! (Google “Train Derailment” and you’ll see what those two words mean). I was like, OMG! How tragic!! How often does that happen? Well apparently with UPS, quite often. So I began to do some investigative digging. Today, October 9, 2008 (and now also October 13, 2008), I found out that two UPS trains derailed, one in San Ramon (mine) and one in Oakland. I did some more digging and another one also derailed today in San Pablo, NM. Before that, in September, it occurred in Hodgkins, IL. Yet with all these train derailments (and who knows how many more were reported in UPS’ tracking updates that my 20-minutes of hard-core internet journalistic research missed) nothing appears in any news report. Odd.

I wonder, is it the rails, or the trains? Is this some sick joke that an embittered UPS software coder made up? Train derailment. Common, you’re kidding right UPS? What’s next? A Plane Crash tracking update? Or Truck Experienced Head-On Collision? or Delivery-Dolphin Caught in Fishing Net?  Maybe FedEx is tampering with all of UPS’ trains in one giant corporate sabotage.

Forget the economic crisis…our frakin’ train infrastructure is falling apart! And nobody cares!! Why aren’t we hearing this as the opening questions for the presidential debates? Where is Steam Engine Willy when you need him?

Our kids are going to throw a freakin’ temper tantrum because their Disney DVDs did not arrive in time for tomorrow’s Friday-Family-Movie-Night. (Wait, perhaps Dreamworks had their hands in this tragic Disney-DVD-package train derailment incident).

What can Brown do for me? Fix your trains or bring back the ponies!!

And please, Brown, next time one of your trains derail don’t tell me, “Your package has experienced an exception” (whatever that means), just shoot straight and say, “Your package will not be delivered on time by us—should have used FedEx“.

Seriously though, can anybody find any bonified news article about these mysterious UPS train derailments, or is UPS just covering up their inability to deliver packages on time? Have any of your UPS packages had the misfortune of “Train Derailment”, or worse, Delivery-Dolphin Netting?

[Locations Update: So far the UPS train "derailed" in San Ramon, San Pablo, Oakland, West Sacramento, San Jose, Pleasanton, South San Francisco, Ceres, Sunnyvale, CA, Greensboro, SC...I'm starting to think this might have been a terrorist attack!! lol Click on the map image to view how far the UPS Train Disaster of '08 spread. UPS is now using a Late Train message in their tracking update.]

[Cargo Update: So far the "Derailed" UPS Train carried Disney DVDs, plants, a camera lens, election signs and buttons, a PC notebook computer, Rhino tabs (whatever those are), a new Playstation3, school text books, food items, a guitar amp, a limited collection Scotty Cameron putter, coconut lime verbena and bergamot fragrance oils and essential oils, Obama bumper stickers, an $80 skin care kit and a $20 makeup palette, a Treo Pro, fake poop for Halloween pranks, a softball bat, a grain mill, athletic apparel, a toilet, an electric guitar, a saxophone, motorcycle parts, iPod, 2 X-Box 360s, a motorcycle seat and. . . any more items to add?]

[Entertainment Update: The following "Lime in the Coconut" video was inspired by Dennis and Eric (see comments below) to help bring a little levity to this tragic disaster [sniff, sniff].


Here are photos of a Kern County train derailment that occurred on October 9th, 2008 at 4:12am.

About The Author

Jeromy Johnson
I live in Folsom, CA, with my wife, Jennifer, and three kids. I am surrounded by and cared for deeply by some great friends. Their love for me is truly a moonlit reflection of Papa's love, and for that, I am deeply blessed and grateful.


  • John M

    I drive from Modesto, through Ceres on Mitchell every business morning and then south on 99 to Turlock. If there as a train derailment, it would be big news around here. Plus it would be very easy to see from Highway 99. I found this page by googling “san pablo train derailment”. I mail order stuff all the time and this is the first time Ive seen this.

    CA, US 10/13/2008 10:00 P.M. TRAIN DERAILMENT
    10/13/2008 7:14 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN

  • Grant

    Seriously I had an Ipod Part in the Train going through San Pablo last night
    My Ipod broke like 2 weeks ago and i finally ordered a replacement Headphone jack
    I wake up the Morning and check out the tracking Info:

    Location Date Local Time Description
    CA, US 10/13/2008 10:00 P.M. TRAIN DERAILMENT
    10/13/2008 7:14 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN

    And now I don’t know when Im going to get my package…or the condition of it!

  • http://none thomas

    @ Emily….i live in Eureka, CA also…

    oddly enough, my neighbors name is emily….coincedence?…

    anyway, my xbox 360 was scheduled to be delivered today, but, due to a unsuspecting train derailment, god knows when its gonna show up…

    just my luck…

  • Brandon

    Ok, so my package says train derailment in San Pablo ,CA as well…..I called UPS customer service and played dumb and said “I can’t find out any tracking info on my package”…..they proceeded to tell me that the last info they have was the package was on the train last night at 10:00 but didn’t mention anything about a derailment…….Total B.S.!!

  • ken

    Just got off the phone with UPS and same story. No update on train derailment and no update as to where my package is. What I don’t understand is at 7:13 am there was an arrival scan but no departure scan? Whenever it leaves a facility there should be a departure scan? My tracking update just shows an arrival scan and then a train derailment. The CSR said the package can still be delivered today, however if after 24 hours there is no update, then they have to do a trace on my package, but until 24 hours are up, they can’t do anything. BS in my opinion.

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  • Miguel

    Talked to a buddy of mine that had a ordered some part for his car or riding lawn mower, he got the same thing as far as the derailed train message. He was home while the UPS guy gave him the package and he mentioned it to the driver about the derailment. Driver called BS and said UPS was just plain late probably, there was no derailment that he had heard of. Pretty bad then your own employees don’t believe thier own company. Oh and BTW, Rhino tabs are small mounting tabs are are going on the cage of my Yamaha Rhino to be able to mount some HID 7″ lights onto so I can light up the desert at night when we go out riding. Also used to put a flag on so people can see me coming over sand dunes.

  • Brett C

    Add me to the list. I bought a used motorcycle seat on eBay from a guy in Texas. I live in Rocklin (near Sacramento).

    When I saw this tracking info today I was surprised because I had not heard of any train derailments. Maybe it was the Kern County train on October 9th that threw off the schedule?

    In any case, it should says ‘TRAIN TRACK TEMPORARILY BLOCKED’, which might be a more accurate assesment.

    Oh well, delivery is ‘rescheduled’ for Wednesday the 15th. Maybe I’ll get it. Who knows.

    CA, US 10/13/2008 10:00 P.M. TRAIN DERAILMENT
    10/13/2008 7:14 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
    TX, US 10/08/2008 10:14 P.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
    10/08/2008 8:12 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN
    10/08/2008 6:04 P.M. PICKUP SCAN

  • http://mendingshift.wordpress.com Jeromy

    Brett, man that sounds like a whole lot of fun. I own a Jeep Wrangler but am too poor to beef it up for any serious off roading…sounds like you know how to tear it up. How often do you get out to the desert?

  • john

    did all of you from the 10-09 derailment get your packages yet? Jeromy, did UPS get your dvds back?

  • http://mendingshift.wordpress.com Jeromy

    I did, but it was intially delivered to the wrong house after all that:

    “So it ends (for me at least). Our package of Disney DVDs was delivered to the wrong house. We live on Briarcliff Court…it was delivered to Briarcliff Drive.

    What can Brown do for me? Perhaps delivering packages is too complicated and Brown needs to go back to the basics, like learning to read!!

    Ugh, perfect ending to a not-so-perfect delivery.”

  • danny

    “Brown took me toilet.
    Brown took me fake poop.
    Brown gave me nothin’ to go on.”

    This sounds more like a Country Western Song.

    Just for fun, ship a keg of vinegar and a keg of baking soda on the same train and see if it makes the news.

  • Waiting In TN

    Imagine that…now a train derailment in IL. I was waiting on a package and after reading the tracking update and running a google search found myself in the land of blogs about mysterious unreported UPS train derailments. Sigh. Brown sucks.

    IL, US 10/24/2008 3:00 P.M. TRAIN DERAILMENT
    CA, US 10/21/2008 11:21 P.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
    10/21/2008 8:25 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN

    Tracking results provided by UPS: 10/24/2008 7:55 P.M. ET

  • http://jeromyj.com/mendingshift/ Jeromy

    Hear, hear. Sigh…

  • Dana

    I saw “Train Derailment” on my tracking update and also did a google search. It appears ANOTHER TRAIN derailed on October 24 in Hodgkins, IL. My package isn’t being delayed by it and that actually made me laugh!

    I have to say though I’ve never had a problem with UPS.

  • Dave

    So, I stumbled on this thread when I was searching for train derailments also. Mine says the package was scanned in my town then the next entry tells me there was a “train derailment”. Funny thing is……THERE ARE NO TRAINS WITHIN 70 MILES OF HERE! And why did they scan it at my terminal and then put it back on this imaginary train hours later?? UPS needs to get their act together ……or at least tell me something I could believe. Like maybe ” Driver Skipped Town” or “Gone Fishing”. I could at least believe those excuses.

  • http://www.buyabanner.com RobG

    I also have just received a TRAIN DERAILMENT exception from UPS in Saint George, UT. OMG!! what is going on, UPS can’t have this many derailed trains, no freaking way!!

  • David

    Got it today for a package being shipped by Toys R Us to North Carolina. Perhaps another “sleeper cell” has been activiated on the east coast. Check it out:


    ONTARIO,CA, US 11/06/2008 8:15 P.M. DEPARTURE SCAN

    11/06/2008 6:41 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN US


  • Chester

    I’m also waiting on a package from Cali. Have the same freaking update as well.


    CERRITOS,CA, US 11/07/2008 2:29 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN

    11/07/2008 12:03 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN

    CERRITOS,CA, US 11/06/2008 11:44 P.M. ARRIVAL SCAN

    ANAHEIM, CA, US 11/06/2008 11:15 P.M. DEPARTURE SCAN

    11/06/2008 7:52 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN


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  • Randy

    SO I'm a few months after this fact, but UPS is still at the “train derailment” I have a package coming from Baldwin Park, CA to Portland, OR. It says at exactly 6am in Portland the train derailed. So, I spend 15 minutes looking for the story, to see how bad it is. For sure, even a small derailment would be covered in local news, we havent got anything else to gossip about. However, I find nothing about this. So I call UPS. “Hi, I have a package coming to me, but it says the train was derailed. Not to be insensitive, but I was wondering what this means for me? I mean, I havent found any news stories ANYWHERE so it can't be bad at all.”
    “It uh.. was delayed. The train was delayed, so that means your package was delayed. Anything else I can help you with today?”
    so… no real explaination, just rush me off the phone with a mediocre answer.

  • Mary Zolinski

    Very nice information. Thanks for the time put into the blog you wrote.

  • Harry

    It’s now Friday 5/30/09 and they’re still at it. My guitar that I bought on eBay derailed yesterday in Hodgkins, IL, according to UPS tracking. However, I just saw that it has now arrived at the shipping location in Lenexa and I’ll get it on Monday, assuming there isn’t another train derailment between there and my house.

  • http://batsonfire.com Slow Pitch

    Wow that is a lot of train derailings. Maybe UPS was just having a string of bad luck

  • johnny

    That is actually really scarry. Reminds me of the Dominos scandel a few years back.

  • freddyfingered

    Train derailments happen all the time. They range from a rail splitting when the train is barely moving (but must be reported as a derailment and all the BS that goes along with that) to the multiple trailer car pile ups that you see in the news. And it’s kinda funny, UPS does own or run these trains. They pay people like Norfolk Southern or BNSF for them to carry their shipments. So why blame UPS? Why assume every stupid and minuscule derailment will be in the news?

  • Jcb

    UPS does not own any trains or train-cars in the US, they are merely “hitching a ride” on any one of the US major railroads’ “inter-modal” trains. UPS does not own or operate any of the trains, their packages are merely placed into truck trailers or containers that are transported by the RR on it’s flatcars. 

    Often what happens is that a UPS trailer or container falls off of the RR-owned flatcar while en-route or, more frequently, from a crane at a transfer terminal. The RR simply writes it off as “destroyed in transit/handling” rather than going through the process of investigating what was and what wasn’t damaged. That allows them to scrap the trailer/container on site, without having to recover any of the items inside (which might be ok, or maybe not). They might, for instance, scrap a perfectly good tipped-over container filled with jello, simply because picking it up wasn’t convenient. This happens all the time in inter-modal shipping, even with boats.

    As such, neither the container/trailer, nor any of their contents, are ever given back to UPS. Compensation for the loss of the freight is paid to UPS by the RR’s insurance company. So if you’re waiting on getting the item involved in a “derailment”, it will probably never arrive. Most likely UPS says “train derailed” because they don’t have enough space to say “flimsy trailer/container damaged in transit by railroad, items destroyed”. Of course real train derailments do happen, but not that frequently (unless the track is REALLY bad). UPS should have been more upfront about their inability to complete their delivery obligation. 

  • http://www.jeromyj.com/mendingshift Jeromy


  • http://twitter.com/ITPalg ITPalg

    I had a “train derailment” a few weeks ago, then waiting on my Logitech mouse warranty fulfillment, just now checking for today’s supposed delivery, I get yet another “train derailment” message on UPS site.

  • pnop



    United States


    4:00 P.M.

    Train derailment.

  • Rhonda

    On November 14, 2013, I too was told that United Parcel Service had a delay delivering my package because of a train derailment in Hodgkins, Illinois. LOL!

    Apparently UPS packages are the only ones being affected by train derailment meanwhile other trains travel through Hodgkins, Illinois, all the time without train derailments. LOL! UPS should consider an alternative route considering how dangerous the train tracks are in Hodgkins Illinois. LOL!

    Maybe UPS should consider using a horse and buggy. LOL! They will not have to worry about a train derailment. LOL! Also they can blame their delays on the horse had to stop at hay. LOL!

  • dumerilgirl

    My package is listed as train derailment, Hodgkins IL. Strange it seems to happen alot there.