Just shy of two weeks after reopening, the Zilker Eagle mini-train derailed June 23, after a rock was intentionally wedged into the tracks. No one was hurt, and the train was righted within a few hours, said Katie Kennedy, a spokesperson for the Austin Parks Foundation—which operates the small rail system—in an email to Community Impact.

There is an ongoing investigation to find the individual responsible for tampering with the tracks, Kennedy said.

Kennedy also said crews are now walking the tracks daily to prevent future tampering, adding that the foundation is actively working with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department on any additional measures needed.

“It is unfortunate and frustrating that this has happened. We, and many Austinites, have been awaiting the opening of the train for years. So when the train has to be shut down for an intentional act like this, it's especially disappointing,” Kennedy wrote. “The Zilker Eagle belongs to all of us, and we want all Austinites to take pride in the train and feel a sense of ownership. ... Safety is our top priority, and we want everyone who rides the Zilker Eagle to have a smooth and positive experience.”

She urged anyone who witnesses suspicious activity near the train or tracks to immediately inform a train crew member to address any issues promptly.

Some context

The newly commissioned train began offering rides to the Austin community June 12, after going out of service in 2019.

Formerly known as the Zilker Zephyr, the train received several improvements by the APF, including the construction of a new train, tracks and locomotive.

Coupled with renovations to the train itself, the foundation also organized renovations to the train depot increasing accessibility and lighting.

According to APF's website, the mini-train has been a part of Austin history for roughly 60 years, dating back to the 1960s.

What you need to know

Located at 2131 1/2 William Barton Drive, the Zilker Eagle offers rides daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for $6 a person. The train also is wheelchair accessible.

Every third Wednesday of the month rides are free to the community from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., excluding school or day care groups.

Find more information about the Zilker Eagle mini train at www.zilkertrain.org.