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County wants railroad to explain derailments

June 17, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County officials decided Thursday to contact state and federal authorities and railroad officials in an attempt to determine why there have been three train derailments in the county.

Jefferson County Commission member Jim Surkamp said he is concerned about the derailments, especially considering that hazardous materials are carried on trains.

Surkamp said a ban on transporting hazardous material on trains through Washington, D.C., is in effect, and he wants to know if such materials are now being transported through Jefferson County.

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The commissioners agreed to contact appropriate federal and state officials in an attempt to find out why the derailments have occurred.

The commissioners also decided to ask officials from CSX and Norfolk Southern talk to them about the situation.

"There could be a simple explanation. It doesn't hurt to look into it from all angles," Commission President Rusty Morgan said.

Surkamp mentioned three train derailments in the county.

Two trains collided on a Norfolk Southern line on April 28 near Shepherdstown, W.Va., and about eight cars on a freight train derailed along Earle Road off W.Va. 51 west of Charles Town on June 8.

Surkamp could not be reached to clarify where the third derailment occurred.

The April 28 crash occurred when a train plowed into the rear of another train sitting on the Norfolk Southern line about a mile south of Shepherdstown.

An engine tumbled off the tracks in the wreck, in which a freight train collided with what appeared to be a work train, officials said.

The freight train was carrying plastics and mixed freight, fire officials said.

The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating to determine a cause of the crash, Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said Thursday.

In the June 8 derailment, the cars might have jumped off the tracks when one of the rails bent under the weight of the train, police said.

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