Freight trains col­lide head-on in Ch­ester

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

CH­ESTER TOWN­SHIP >> Two freight trains crashed head-on Fri­day morning, knock­ing one lo­co­mo­tive off the tracks and send­ing two crew mem­bers to the hospi­tal with mi­nor in­juries.

By Fri­day evening, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadel­phia, was ask­ing for an im­me­di­ate Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the sta­tus of Pos­i­tive Train Con­trol (PTC) tech­nol­ogy.

In a let­ter to the DOT Sec­re­tary An­thony Foxx, the congressman ex­pressed his con­cern that the PTC sys­tem may not have been ac­ti­vated in the area where the col­li­sion oc­curred. Ad­di­tion­ally, Brady stressed that he is ex­tremely con­cerned about the epi­demic of se­ri­ous crashes in the First Con­gres­sional District, and em­pha­sized the ne­ces­sity for the DOT to con­tinue to press for im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion of ef­fec­tive rail safety mea­sures.

The head-on col­li­sion oc­curred in the 2300 block of Con­cord Road, about a block from the Felton Hose and Chem­i­cal fire depart­ment, shortly be­fore 8:30 a.m., Ch­ester Town­ship Po­lice Chief Ken­neth Coal­son said. Early in­di­ca­tions were that one freight train rear-ended the other, knuck­ling into the fuel tank, re­sult­ing in a fuel spill. It was later de­ter­mined the im­pact was head on.

Res­i­dents nearby de­scribed hear­ing “a loud crash,” one man said he rec­og­nized the sound of grind­ing metal.

Ray Guy, 58, re­port­edly was mov­ing his car at his home along­side the tracks when he saw an east­bound train and a parked west­bound train on the same track “hit hard.” Guy said one of the crew mem­bers ap­peared dazed.

As of 4:30 p.m. Fri­day, CSX had com­pleted re-rail­ing the lo­co­mo­tive that had par­tially de­railed in the col­li­sion, and CSX was ex­pect­ing that the site would be re­turned to full op­er­a­tional con­di­tion and freight ser­vices would re­sume through the area later Fri­day, CSX me­dia spe­cial­ist Rob Doolit­tle stated in an email.

In ad­di­tion, the two em­ploy­ees who had been trans­ported from the scene for med­i­cal at­ten­tion were ex­am­ined and re­leased from the hospi­tal, hav­ing suf­fered no se­ri­ous in­juries, Doolit­tle stated. The two other em­ploy­ees in­volved did not re­quire med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Doolit­tle, one CSX freight train was trav­el­ing from Rich­mond, Va., to the Pavo­nia rail yard in Cam­den, N.J., with three lo­co­mo­tives and 64 empty freight cars. The other train was trav­el­ing from Que­bec, Canada, to At­lanta, Ga., with one lo­co­mo­tive and eight in­ter­modal cars car­ry­ing con­sumer goods and food prod­ucts.

Each train was trav­el­ing with two crew mem­bers aboard.

“We re­ally got lucky with this. There were no haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als on those trains,” Coal­son said.

As to why both trains were trav­el­ing on the same track at the same time, Coal­son said, “We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.”

The on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing con­ducted jointly by town­ship and CSX au­thor­i­ties.

Town­ship and CSX po­lice were on the scene through­out the day, as well as firefighters from Felton Hose and Chem­i­cal and Ch­ester City.

“CSX ap­pre­ci­ates the swift re­sponse of the Ch­ester Town­ship Fire Depart­ment and other area first re­spon­ders to­day, and for their con­tin­ued sup­port as we have worked to re­store the scene of the in­ci­dent. We apol­o­gize to area res­i­dents for any in­con­ve­nience that this in­ci­dent may have caused. The safety of our em­ploy­ees and the com­mu­ni­ties where we op­er­ate is CSX’s high­est pri­or­ity, and our goal is to de­liver ev­ery ship­ment of freight en­trusted to us safely to its in­tended des­ti­na­tion,” Doolit­tle stated.


Work­ers from CSX work to sep­a­rate two trains that col­lided head-on, in­jur­ing a cou­ple of crew mem­bers and leav­ing a fuel spill to be cleaned up.

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