Freight trains collide head-on in Chester
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.