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September 30, 2015

Freight train derails two miles west of Marshall

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A freight train derailment about two miles west of Marshall early Wednesday morning created a scene that resembles war’s aftermath.

The accident happened around midnight, according to Norfolk Southern spokesman Susan M. Terpay.

The southbound “train with three locomotives, 7,053 feet long, struck a pile of crossties laying across track at Marshall, derailing nine cars . . . with some cars on their sides,” Ms. Terpay said.

The 44-car train’s two-man crew suffered no injury, she added.

Hulcher Services, which specializes in derailment recovery, quickly dispatched bulldozers and cranes to the remote scene, north of Route 55 on George Thompson’s farm.

Heavy equipment operators forded a small stream and knocked down trees to reach some of the derailed cars. They also cut a steep, muddy road above the tracks to reach the front of the scene.

The train, about 1.3 miles long and bound for Manassas, then other points to the south, included dozens of truck trailers, some of which held candy, much of it strewn along the railway.

Ms. Terpay described the train’s cargo as “a variety of consumer goods.”

Mr. Thompson said workers at the scene told him that the train included two chemical tank cars, which remained on the tracks. An engine pulled those undamaged tanker cars from the scene, according to the information Mr. Thompson received.

To remove overturned cars, Hulcher ripped up several hundred feet rails. Workers on the scene Wednesday afternoon said they would work through the night and could have the rail line open Thursday.

The derailment apparently involved only cars near the front of the train. Cars to the northwest remained on the tracks Wednesday afternoon.

“We are diverting some traffic through Lynchburg” to and from the Inland Port, Ms. Terpay said.

“We don’t provide damage estimates,” she said of the costs, which probably will run into millions of dollars.

Nor does the investigation involve the National Transportation Safety Board, Ms. Terpay said.

Norfolk Southern, which owns the track, will conduct its own investigation.

Some at the scene said the heavy rain Tuesday might may have created flooding that washed extra railroad ties onto the track, causing the derailment.

To reach the scene — about a half-mile north of Route 55 — crews had to travel about two miles on dirt roads, through harvested cornfields and three gates, on Mr. Thompson's farm. He knew nothing about the accident until Wednesday morning, when a railway representative called to seek permission to use his property for the recovery, Mr. Thompson said.

The scene lies near the back of the English Chase subdivision.

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thetruthhurtsalot · October 5, 2015 at 9:10 am
Hulcher Services did not arrive first on scene, nor did they have any cranes onsite. A Virginia based derailment services contractor, Cranemasters, arrived first with cranes and earth moving equipment to clear and assist railroad officials with the clean up. Hulcher services performed a supporting role and was released after the initial clean up was completed
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