FLORIDA - Freight Train Derails, Spills Coal

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Title: Freight Train Derails, Spills Coal in Ormond


ORMOND BEACH - Thirteen train cars carrying coal derailed Friday afternoon at the Hull Road railroad crossing, forcing authorities to close the road to vehicles until at least this afternoon.

No one was injured in the 4:07 p.m. accident and the coal spill posed no danger to the environment or nearby businesses or residents, said Lt. Jim Shaw, public information officer for the Ormond Beach Fire Department.

Jane Covington, communications director for Florida East Coast Industries, said the southbound train was 87 cars long. Once the train engineer surveyed the undamaged portion of the train and determined it safe to continue, he unhooked it from the remainder of the train and continued south.

The coal train originated in Jacksonville and was headed to Miami.

Covington said a preliminary FEC investigation found no indication the train crew acted improperly or was in anyway responsible for the accident. She said the derailed cars would have to be completely removed from the track before FEC investigators could examine it closely.

She said the track speed limit, which is comparable to highway speed limits, is 45 mph. Each train car has a weight limit of 205,000 pounds and all the cars on the FEC train were full.

"Because of the tonnage, coal trains move slowly - many slower than the posted 45 mph limit," Covington said. "We have not yet determined the speed of this train, but locomotives have black boxes similar to those found on airplanes. As soon as we download its contents we'll know the speed of the train, the air pressure and other relevant information."

Some of the cars were badly damaged, as were portions of the track. Covington said it would be a few days before the exact dollar amount in damages could be determined.

Sgt. George Coluccio, public information officer for the Ormond Beach Police Department said several businesses and any sports teams who use the nearby soccer and baseball fields on the weekends would be inconvenienced by the road closure, but all could reach their destinations by alternate routes, including Harmony Avenue.

Covington said heavy equipment, including cranes, arrived at the scene around 8 p.m. Friday. She estimated all cars would be clear of the track by 6 a.m. today, and the track would be repaired for train traffic by 3 p.m. She said crews would be working around the clock.

Additional repairs will have to be made to concrete portions of the railroad crossing, but because it is a holiday weekend, it could be Sunday before that work is completed.

Covington said train traffic would be delayed until repairs are completed, but added that she didn't think the delays would be too great a hardship.

"Train traffic on the weekends is typically slower than during the week and with this being a holiday weekend, traffic will be even slower," she said

Friday's accident was the second train derailment in Volusia County in less than two weeks. Eleven cars of a CSX Corp. train jumped the track near Seville on April 10, sparking two small fires. Two tanker cars and several auto carriers derailed in that incident, but there were no injuries. Investigators later determined that an overheated bearing on the lead car caused that derailment. ) 2000 News-Journal Corp. . news-journalonline.com



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), April 22, 2000


Running count:

This makes the 6th North American derailment so far this month (with 8 days yet to go), compared to 10 for all of last month. This equals the number for all of February. So, the pace is still picking up.

Has anyone noticed that all of these derailments are at or near crossings, in or close to freight yards and/or switching terminals?


-- JackW (jpayne@webtv.net), April 22, 2000.

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