By M.T. Burkhart
GAMBOA, Panama – The Panama Canal Railway, which was closed for more than three months after a ship hit and damaged the line’s major bridge, has resumed operations.
On June 23, the Panama Canal Railway bridge over the Rio Chagres near Gamboa was struck by the 200-meter, Cyprus-flagged bulk carrier Bluebill. The ship was traveling northbound through the canal. The collision collapsed part of the span – and put the railroad out of service.
The railroad operated a test train through the rebuilt structure on September 28, with regular double stack operations resuming the next day, according to Panamanian media. The cause of the collision is not yet known.
The Panama Canal Railway connects Atlantic and Pacific ports and runs across the isthmus between Balboa (near Panama City) and Colón. In 2019, it hauled more than 285,000 containers.
Panama has a long railroad history, with the inter-ocean line connecting the Atlantic and Pacific opened in 1855. The original trackage was partially relocated when the canal was built, and played a significant role in the United States’ construction from 1904 until the canal opened in 1914. Closed for a time, the railroad reopened in 2000, and is jointly operated by Kansas City Southern and Mi-Jack Products.