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Freight train derails into river in Harpers Ferry

December 27, 2019
Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle , Shepherdstown Chronicle

HARPERS FERRY - An eastbound CSX freight train crossing the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry derailed and sent multiple train cars into the water below in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Several cars could be seen hanging off the tracks, while some rested in the river below. The call for emergency responders sounded at approximately 2:45 a.m.

CSX official Bryan Tucker said seven "empty grain cars" derailed in the incident and that two of them "slid into the Potomac River."

Article Photos

An eastbound CSX freight train crossing the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry derailed and sent multiple train cars into the water below in the early hours of Saturday morning. Toni Milbourne

"All seven cars were empty and there were no hazardous materials involved," Tucker said.

All personnel on the train have been accounted for and there are no injuries reported at this time, officials have said.

According to Harpers Ferry Mayor Wayne Bishop, the accident scene is being overseen by representatives from CSX Railroad, the Harpers Ferry Police Department and the National Park Service.

Emergency service responders included those from Washington County, Md., Frederick County, Md., Loudoun County, Va. and Jefferson County.

While Bishop indicated that the clean-up from the accident would likely take several days, the train cars were lifted from the water within 24 hours. CSX officials reported that the cars were moved to Brunswick Sunday morning.

Bishop shared that a portion of the pedestrian bridge that leads from Harpers Ferry across the Potomac River to the towpath was destroyed in the accident.

The bridge, part of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, received the most damage in the accident. According to the National Park Service, that bridge was the only one damaged; the rail bridge reopened Sunday.

"The Goodloe Byron Memorial Footbridge over the Potomac River is closed until further notice," said a release from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, based in Harpers Ferry.

According to Harpers Ferry National Park Service, as of press time, the point was temporarily closed in Lower Town for clean-up and further assessment of the derailment. The areas include John Brown's Fort and the Point near the fort.

"CSX appreciates the swift response of the West Virginia and Maryland first responders," Tucker said. "CSX will work swiftly and safely in the cleanup and to restore the area. The cause of the derailment is under investigation."

 
 
 

 

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