The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

April 14, 2011

18 coal cars derail in train wreck near Surveyor

SURVEYOR — A Norfolk Southern freight train accident near Surveyor late Wednesday night caused several coal cars to derail, spilling their loads and leaving the cars in a mangled pile of steel, coal and other debris, but caused no injuries, a railroad spokesman said.

The train, consisting of three pulling locomotives on the front, 100 loaded coal cars, and three pusher locomotives at the rear, had 18 coal cars leave the tracks at around 11:45 p.m., at milepost 395.5, which is right across W.Va. Route 3 from the entrance to Lake Stephens, according to Robin Chapman, a Norfolk Southern spokesman. The tracks run parallel to W.Va. 3.

The train was traveling from Alloy in Fayette County to Elmore in Wyoming County.

Chapman said the accident site should be cleaned up and tracks repaired within 24 hours of the crash.

The stretch of track where the accident occurred has seen several derailments in the past, although Chapman said, “I don’t know if there is any correlation” with those accidents and the one Wednesday night.

The most serious of the derailments was on Nov. 2, 2003, in which three lead locomotives and 18 cars left the tracks at the same milepost, Chapman said. The lead locomotive came to rest within 10 feet of the highway.

The cause of that accident was attributed to a broken rail.

In September 2003 and January 2008, two other accidents caused by broken rails happened within two miles of Wednesday’s derailment. In March 2006, another derailment occurred 12 miles away.

Chapman said the railroad conducts regular inspections on their tracks to identify any problems and makes any needed repairs in a timely manner.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

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