3 trains derail in Hempfield; 50 railroad cars jump tracks; no injuries reported
Three Norfolk Southern Corp. mixed-freight trains were involved in a derailment about three miles east of Greensburg on Friday that derailed 50 shipping containers, blocking both rail lines that carry freight and passenger traffic on the heavily-traveled route between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the railroad said.
No one was reported injured in the wreck.
There were no reports of any hazardous material that leaked as a result of the derailment that occurred about 2:30 p.m., when eight rail cars transporting 32 containers were pushed off the tracks, Norfolk Southern said in a statement late Friday night.
The trains derailed just west of the Georges Station Road bridge in Hempfield, along a double mainline section of track.
A westbound freight train transporting empty crude oil tank cars from Altoona to the huge rail yard in Conway, Beaver County, collided with the rear of a westbound intermodal train that carries trailers that will be hauled by big rig trucks.
Two locomotives pulling the crude oil cars were knocked off the track, but remained upright. Three rail cars transporting 18 shipping containers derailed off the intermodal train, Norfolk Southern said.
Some of the equipment that derailed struck part of an eastbound train traveling on the adjacent mainline track, causing the derailment of eight rail cars transporting 32 containers on the eastbound train.
Several of the trailers carrying the name J.B. Hunt International were torn apart by the force of the collision, exposing shredded paper and other products.
A derailed locomotive was pinned by a freight car that jumped the tracks. At the spot where the collision occurred, the rail line was twisted and shipping containers were pushed against the hillside.
Norfolk Southern personnel and contractors that specialize in derailment recovery are working to restore train service to double mainline tracks where the rail cars derailed.
Firefighters from several departments and the Westmoreland County Hazardous Materials team were at the scene, but no hazardous materials are known to have spilled, said Jason Winters, Hempfield Township manager.
The derailment’s cause remains under investigation by the Norfolk, Va.,-based company. The railroad did not estimate how long it will take to clear the tracks.
That section of the Norfolk Southern tracks is used by Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian train that connects Pittsburgh with Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York City. Passengers on the Pennsylvanian on Friday were transported by bus from Altoona to their destination, said Kimberly Woods, Amtrak spokeswoman.
Amtrak has not made a decision on service Saturday on the Pennsylvanian, Woods said. The Pennsylvanian is scheduled to leave Pittsburgh about 7 a.m. and arrive in Greensburg at 8 a.m. If Amtrak opts to bus the passengers around the derailment, Latrobe is the closest station east of the derailment.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .