Woman convicted of attempting to use shunts to disrupt signal system, derail trains

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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A woman has been convicted of attempting to use a shunt on BNSF tracks in Washington state.
BNSF Railway

The U.S. District Court in Seattle convicted a woman on Sept. 9 who used shunts on BNSF railroad tracks near Bellingham, Wash.

Ellen Reiche was accused of having material for shunts, which are devices that interfere with the signal system between a train and the tracks, near railroad tracks on Nov. 28, 2020. Reiche could receive a 20-year prison sentence for what the court called “violence against a railroad carrier.” The sentence hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 17.

A group against the construction of a natural gas pipeline across British Columbia has been accused of attempting to disrupt rail lines, with shunts serving as the main weapon.

Reiche and Samantha Brooks, who already pleaded guilty, are on surveillance video walking on the tracks on Nov. 28. They were detained by police for trespassing, and a shunt was found at the scene. According to court records Reiche was holding on to a brown paper bag, which contained wire similar to the wire used for shunts. A drill, magnetic adhesive, and gloves also were found.

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