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Lower Saucon train derailment report: Damage estimated at $2.5 million, 7 crew members hurt

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Rich Rolen/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Jayson Wagner/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Jayson Wagner/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Jayson Wagner/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Jayson Wagner/Special to 첥Ƶ)

  • A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in...

    A train derailed in the area of Riverside Drive in Lower Saucon Township on Saturday morning, March 2, 2024, sending several cars into the Lehigh River. (Jayson Wagner/Special to 첥Ƶ)

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Seven workers suffered minor injuries in the March 2 derailment of three trains in Northampton County, according to a federal government report released Tuesday on the accident.

The seven crew members were treated at a local hospital and released, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which .

The derailment, which happened on tracks along the Lehigh River in Lower Saucon Township, did not lead to resident evacuations or injure local emergency responders. However, it caused an estimated $2.5 million in damages to the tracks and Norfolk Southern Railway equipment, the report says. Nine railcars and two locomotives left the tracks, with the locomotives partially submerged in the river.

Lower Saucon Council President Priscilla deLeon, who lives near the tracks, which are in a secluded area below the Steel City section of the township, said she reviewed the report. She lauded the first responders and Northampton County officials for providing training to deal with such emergencies.

“We were fortunate there was no release of toxic chemicals and no evacuations,” she said. “If nothing else, [the training] gave first responders an idea of what could happen to be better prepared.”

An NTSB spokesperson, responding to questions from 첥Ƶ, said the agency could not provide further details, as more evidence is being collected and reviewed.

A final report from NTSB could take one to two years to complete and release.

The report’s other findings include:

Officials determined a Norfolk Southern train hit another Norfolk Southern train on the same eastbound track. The train that was hit derailed and was subsequently hit by a westbound Norfolk Southern mixed freight train on the Allentown Road subdivision near Easton, according to the report.

Three cars derailed on the first train that was hit. Those cars went onto the adjacent westbound track, where they were hit by the westbound train. That collision caused six railcars and two locomotives to derail, according to officials. Two locomotives partially submerged into the Lehigh River and discharged diesel fuel into the water, the report states.

The tank cars did not rupture or release any hazardous materials, though three derailed railcars were placarded as hazardous materials tank cars. One contained an ethanol residue while two contained butane residue.

The train that was hit on the eastbound track was traveling from Atlanta to Croxton, New Jersey. It had three lead locomotives and 27 railcars, with a crew of an engineer and a conductor. The train that hit it was coming from Landers, Illinois, and going to Elizabeth, New Jersey. It had two lead locomotives and 39 railcars, with an engineer and conductor as crew.

The westbound train was going from Croxton to East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County. It had two lead locomotives, one distributed power unit and 199 mixed freight railcars. It had an engineer, a conductor and a conductor trainee.

The eastbound train that was hit was initially stopped because of train traffic. The report states that the eastbound train that hit it was going at a restricted 13 mph at the time of the collision. The westbound train was going about 22 mph, which was below a maximum authorized speed limit of 40 mph.

Train movements near the crash site are authorized by signal indications with an overlaid “positive train control system” and are coordinated by a Norfolk Southern dispatcher center in Atlanta.

Such systems are designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into work zones and movements of trains through switches left in the wrong position, an NTSB official told 첥Ƶ earlier this month.

The weather did not appear to be a factor, according to the NTSB. It was overcast but daylight wen the crash happened, 35 degrees with light rain.

NTSB investigators on the scene completed interviews, inspected locomotives and railcars, tested and downloaded data from positive train control and signal systems, and sent data from radio logs, locomotive event recorders, and outward- and inward-facing image recorders to the the agency’s laboratory for analysis.

Morning 첥Ƶ reporter Anthony Salamone can be reached at asalamone@mcall.com.

‘It could have been a lot worse.’ 2 railcars in Lower Saucon train derailment had hazardous materials residue but did not leak, NTSB says

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