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Train derailment near me


susieice

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I wasn't going to make a thread of this and put it in my status updates but, because of the railroad company involved and what I'm finding out, I thought this might be a topic of discussion. Around 7:15 this morning, residents in Bethlehem Township, just south of me, heard an enormous boom that they thought could be an explosion. As I've learned now, three trains collided on double tracks that run alongside the Lehigh River. All three of the trains belong to the Norfolk Southern Railroad, who is the same company who had that terrible derailment last year in Ohio that caused so much concern about contamination. Luckily here, residents were told there was no hazardous material on any of the trains and just that some diesel fuel had leaked from one of the engines into the river so there was no worries about contamination or evacuations needed. But it was also said that polypropylene pellets were also leaking. I don't know what they are or if I trust what we're being told. The NTSB is investigating and investors for the railroad company are now demanding a change in leadership. This may be the final straw.

I'm hearing now that an eastbound train collided into a train that was stopped on the track. That collision knocked cars into a westbound train, derailing it also. Why were three trains in that close of a proximity to each other and why was one of them stopped on the track? Aren't trains' positions tracked at various stations along the route?

I'll post the links here. Some are my local news station. Pictures are in the links.

Train derails into Lehigh River; no injuries, evacuations, leaks reported | Lehigh Valley Regional News | wfmz.com

During a news conference that was streamed live on WFMZ.com at 11 a.m., officials said that diesel fuel had spilled into the Lehigh River but that the spill had been contained. Polypropylene pellets were also leaking from one of the train's cars.

"Some of the cars that were derailed were marked as holding hazardous material, but they were empty,"

Investor group says Saturday's Norfolk Southern accident reinforces its call for new leadership | Lehigh Valley Regional News | wfmz.com

 The Norfolk Southern accident in Northampton County on Saturday shows the need for change at the top of the railroad, an investor group said.

Ancora Holdings Group said the Lower Saucon Township wreck and earlier accidents reinforce the investor's call for new leadership.

Ancora said Norfolk Southern Chief Executive Alan Shaw should be removed. Shaw was paid $13.4 million in 2023, including base pay, awards of stock and stock options. That was up 37% from 2022, when he took over as CEO in May.

On Feb. 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, did not cause any injuries but led to the release of chemicals, a fire and evacuations.

"It is all too common for people to see in the news that a Norfolk Southern train is at the center of a derailment or tragedy," Ancora said.

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It was definitely three trains involved. Why so close to each other? Pictures in all the links. Local residents on the news broadcast were wondering how they can be a crane in that's big enough to lift those heavy engines out. It's double train track, the river on one side and a hillside on the other side.

CBS Philadelphia is saying it's plastic pellets.

Norfolk Southern train derailment spills diesel fuel, plastic pellets along river near Bethlehem, Pa. (msn.com)

ABC

3 trains involved in collision, derailment in Pennsylvania: NTSB (msn.com)

NBC

Pa. train derailment leaves cars on riverbank and in water; no injuries or hazardous materials reported (nbcnews.com)

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Railroads try to cram as much traffic as they can onto the tracks.  That means  some are going to pull of on passing sidings and let higher priority traffic pass.  It also means not very much distance between trains.  As you say, centralized block control and other traffic control railroads use is supposed to track everything.  We fewer people on train crews (also a money saving strategy)  a mishap might throw everything off.  A derailment, bad wheel or brake,  could unexpectedly stop a train dead in a bad position. Then things can start to compound quickly.

I am biased on this subject.  I think railroads have always been slow to adopt better safety measures and accountants have perfected that to an art.

 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Tatetopa said:

Railroads try to cram as much traffic as they can onto the tracks.  That means  some are going to pull of on passing sidings and let higher priority traffic pass.  It also means not very much distance between trains.  As you say, centralized block control and other traffic control railroads use is supposed to track everything.  We fewer people on train crews (also a money saving strategy)  a mishap might throw everything off.  A derailment, bad wheel or brake,  could unexpectedly stop a train dead in a bad position. Then things can start to compound quickly.

I am biased on this subject.  I think railroads have always been slow to adopt better safety measures and accountants have perfected that to an art.

 

Right now I'm thankful that there's no contamination or need for anyone to evacuate, but my gut instincts tell me not to just accept what this railroad company is saying. There were cars marked for hazardous materials but they say they were empty. I remember what happened in Ohio and how those people didn't get much attention until they started getting sick and complaining. This company's stockholders don't trust them or the people in charge. This is three full trains and we've been told little about what was on them. I don't see the plastic being mentioned in a lot of the news reports. That report came from a Philadelphia station. I hope when the NTSB investigates, they will give us a better idea of just what happened. I hope no one is lying and everything stays good but I can't help holding some suspicions. I don't know how often trains travel on these tracks but the locals are familiar with them. Again, they just said on the news there's nothing to worry about. I just need to trust my local authorities.

 

Edited by susieice
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However much of a mess the derailment made, it could have been so much worse.  I am appalled by how often derailments happen in the USA.  Does this happen in any other country with anything near this frequency? 

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26 minutes ago, Alchopwn said:

However much of a mess the derailment made, it could have been so much worse.  I am appalled by how often derailments happen in the USA.  Does this happen in any other country with anything near this frequency? 

No, one of the owners of the Winchester-Western use to complain the tracks were worn out and in bad shape everywhere. They wouldn't move LP from Valero because the tracks were dangerous around the plant in Paulsboro. 

Corporate asses lining their pockets at the sacrifice of the infrastructure. 

 

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Posted (edited)

As for why a train might be stopped on the tracks, I lived next to a train track that runs alongside the Hudson River nearly my whole life. 
 

Often a train would stop on the tracks because the track went from two rails to one. So a train would stop to let another by, going from the one track to two. 
 

As kids we would jump on the trains when they were just starting back up and ride till it got to fast. 
 

Glad you are ok susieice. 

Edited by preacherman76
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Posted (edited)

What gets me is that 3 trains on 2 tracks were at the exact same spot at the exact same time. 2 were eastbound and 1 westbound.  I wonder if they knew they were all there. Was the second eastbound engineer even made aware there was another train stopped on the track ahead of him? And the westbound train got there just as the collision happened and was derailed by debris. The timing of all of this just boggles my mind! I always thought trains were monitored by a GPS tracking system or something that told the stations where they were at any given time. It's a miracle this wasn't worse and no one was killed or injured. After what happened in Ohio, I don't trust Norfolk Southern to tell the truth. Their own stockholders are yelling for the company's CEO to be fired because of all the derailments in the last 2 years. We still aren't being told much other than that there's no threat to the public but the NTSB says an unknown number of cars were derailed. Two engines ended up in the Lehigh River.

NTSB investigation: Eastbound train hit stopped train; debris spilled onto westbound track | Lehigh Valley Regional News | wfmz.com

According to the NTSB, preliminary information about the incident indicates that an eastbound Norfolk Southern train hit a second Norfolk Southern train that was stopped on the same track.

According to the NTSB, wreckage from the first train then spilled onto an adjacent track and was struck by a third, westbound Norfolk Southern train. This collision ultimately led to the derailment of "an unknown number" of train cars, the NTSB said.

The NTSB says it will send a team of "experts in train operations, signals & train control, mechanical systems, and human performance" to the scene later on Saturday.

 
Edited by susieice
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7 hours ago, susieice said:

I always thought trains were monitored by a GPS tracking system or something that told the stations where they were at any given time

This might have nothing to do with what occured but I have heard that trains are getting progressively longer/pulling more train cars per trip.  It is possible that at least one of these trains was longer then expected and the people monitoring thought they had more space then they did for the other train to stop.

From a study in 2017, from 2008 to 2017 trains increased in length by 25%, averaging about 1.2 to 1.4 miles long but some train companies were claiming at the time they were running trains in excess of 2 miles long on average.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, DarkHunter said:

This might have nothing to do with what occured but I have heard that trains are getting progressively longer/pulling more train cars per trip.  It is possible that at least one of these trains was longer then expected and the people monitoring thought they had more space then they did for the other train to stop.

From a study in 2017, from 2008 to 2017 trains increased in length by 25%, averaging about 1.2 to 1.4 miles long but some train companies were claiming at the time they were running trains in excess of 2 miles long on average.

The residents that went down to the wreck site and the local news reporters said train cars stretched each way for as far as they could see. They said the trains were long.

Cleanup is happening now. They did get cranes down there. Pictures in links.

Cleanup of Norfolk Southern derailment moving quickly; investigation continues | Allentown-area | wfmz.com

Cleanup continues at the site of the Norfolk Southern derailment, investigation continues (wgolv.com)

Edited by susieice
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18 hours ago, Piney said:

No, one of the owners of the Winchester-Western use to complain the tracks were worn out and in bad shape everywhere. They wouldn't move LP from Valero because the tracks were dangerous around the plant in Paulsboro. 

Corporate asses lining their pockets at the sacrifice of the infrastructure. 

You are correct of course, Piney.  Still, it makes me 🤬. This sort of corruption will turn the USA into the Russian Federation.

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