NJ - 4-car freight derailment snarls morning rush for NJT trains

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4-car freight derailment snarls morning rush for NJT trains Thursday, September 7, 2000 By WAYNE PARRY The Associated Press


An early morning freight train derailment delayed thousands of rail commuters who had to be put on buses and driven around the accident Wednesday.

Investigators were trying to determine what caused four cars of a 59-car CSX freight train to go off the tracks in Elizabeth near the border with Newark at 2 a.m., coming to rest on their sides.

Crews had righted three of the four cars as of 11 a.m., but there was no estimate of when the job might be completed, said Cecilia Cummings, a spokeswoman for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, on whose tracks the derailment occurred.

NJ Transit used shuttle buses to carry passengers around the crash site. The Elizabeth and North Elizabeth stations were to be bypassed by NJ Transit trains for most of the day. Trains leaving New York and Newark skipped Elizabeth and North Elizabeth and were to continue to do so through the evening rush hour, spokesman Michael Klufas said.

Trains headed for Newark or New York from points south were to resume stopping at Elizabeth and North Elizabeth as of 4:30 p.m., he said. Normal service in both directions was to resume at 8:30 p.m.

The freight train was headed from Selkirk, N.Y., to Metuchen with a load of auto parts for assembly plants there and in Linden, said Robert Lifkind, a spokesman for Conrail, which is jointly owned by CSX and the Norfolk & Southern railroads.

"The train basically serves the auto industry, bringing parts to the auto assembly plants," he said.

Cars 16 through 19 derailed on a fairly straight stretch of track, Lifkind said. Crews used a rail-mounted crane to lift the fallen cars and place them back on the rails.

One was a box car carrying auto parts, and the three others held auto frames, Lifkind said.

By midday, NJ Transit's trains were running on or close to schedule. Delays averaged about 20 minutes during the morning rush hour, in which more than 1,500 passengers had to board shuttle buses.

Amtrak passengers fared better, experiencing delays on only two trains from New York headed to Washington, Cummings said. Train 101 was delayed by five minutes, and train 79 was delayed by nine minutes.

"We came through much better than we expected to in terms of delays," she said.


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), September 07, 2000

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