Update: Downed tree derails train near Millsboro

July 15, 2013
A train carrying stone derailed north of Millsboro July 14. No one was injured. COURTESY DELAWARE STATE POLICE

Story Location:
Millsboro  Delaware
United States

A freight train carrying 300 tons of stone was derailed by a downed pine tree on the tracks near Millsboro early July 14.

A Norfolk Southern freight train pulling about 70 cars was traveling southbound about 4 a.m. when 15 of the cars overturned in a wooded area between Patriots Way and West State Street. Delaware State Police troopers and Norfolk Southern officials continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Dave Pidgeon, media relations manager for Norfolk Southern, said the train conductor and engineer onboard at the time of the accident were not harmed. He said the cause of the accident is still under investigation.

DSP confirmed a report released by the National Response Center indicating the train was derailed by a tree on the railway. DSP said the tree was about 3 to 4 feet in diameter and had fallen on the tracks as a result of saturated soils after the region's heavy rainfall July 12.

Two locomotives also derailed but remained upright. Three-quarters of a mile length of railroad track was heavily damaged or destroyed in the incident.

Pidgeon said a Norfolk Southern team along with a crew from Philadelphia-area contractor Terra are on scene working to clean up the cars and repair the track. The line will be closed until repairs can be made. Pidgeon could not provide a time table for when repairs will be completed.

"It does cause a logistical challenge for us because we still have customers to serve," he said. "We'll figure out a way to best serve our customers."

An assessment of the scene indicated that there are no hazardous conditions and there are no hazards or threats to the environment or surrounding communities, state police said.