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Derailment probe could take four to six months

April 11, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A national transportation official said it could take several months to determine the cause of Friday's derailment of 15 CSX freight cars here.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.

Pam Barry, the director of public affairs for the FRA, said her agency's investigation likely will last four to six months.

Gary Wollenhaupt, a spokesman for CSX in Indianapolis, said the rail company was conducting its own investigation.

CSX will review an "event recorder," a computer in the engine that holds information about the speed and brakes, according to Gil Kovar, general manager of the CSX office in Baltimore.

The 48-car train broke in half near the Queen Street overpass at about 3:45 a.m. on Friday.

Fifteen cars derailed and collided with each other behind Williamsport Avenue. The cars were carrying 32 new Ford trucks, newsprint and metallic ore.

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No one was injured.

Wollenhaupt said the damage to the freight cars has been estimated at $250,000, which does not include the value of the goods they were carrying.

About 500 feet of destroyed track was replaced and train traffic resumed Saturday morning.

Wollenhaupt said the track damage was estimated at $60,000.

The last CSX derailment in the Martinsburg area was on April 23, 1997, according to Wollenhaupt. He said 12 of 80 eastbound cars carrying mixed freight derailed.

A track "geometry defect," or misalignment, was to blame for that derailment, he said.

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