News & Reviews News Wire Three-train NS accident in Pennsylvania sends locomotives into Lehigh River

Three-train NS accident in Pennsylvania sends locomotives into Lehigh River

By Trains Staff | March 2, 2024

NTSB opens investigation; diesel fuel, plastic pellets enter river

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Locomotives on riverbank after derailment
No injuries reported, but diesel fuel and plastic pellets were spilled into the Lehigh River, following this collision and derailment Saturday, March 2, near Allentown, Pa. Nancy Run Fire Company

LOWER SAUCON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a derailment involving three Norfolk Southern trains that occurred today (Saturday, March 2) near Allentown, Pa., the safety agency said on social media site X. The incident sent two locomotives partially into the adjacent Lehigh River; NS reported diesel fuel and a small amount of plastic pellets from a single railcar also entered the river.

The Allentown Morning Call reports the incident occurred about 7:15 a.m. and that just one of the three trains involved derailed. The NTSB said that preliminary information indicates that an eastbound NS train struck a stopped train; wreckage from the moving train fouled an adjacent track and was struck by a westbound train. There was no immediate information on the number of cars derailed. No injuries were reported; crew members were stranded on the riverbank needed assistance from first responders to climb to a roadway.

The New York Times reports that Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure reported that some of the derailed cars were marked as carrying hazardous materials, but those cars were empty, and that the derailment posed no risk to the public.

Norfolk Southern said it was would assist the NTSB in its investigation of the accident.

Ancora Holdings, the activist investor seeking to replace Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw, released a statement a few hours after the derailment calling for the “immediate termination” of Shaw and saying it stands read “to engage with the company about an orderly reconstitution of the Board and a transition to capable management with a track record of actually delivering on safety commitments,” and that images from the derailment “underscore the urgent need to replace the company’s failed executive leadership and provide the railroad the fresh start it so desperately needs.”

Derailed tank cars next to river
The NTSB says initial information indicates one Norfolk Southern train struck a stopped train; cars from one of those trains fouled an adjacent track and were struck by a train moving in the opposite direction. Nancy Run Fire Company

12 thoughts on “Three-train NS accident in Pennsylvania sends locomotives into Lehigh River

  1. Mr. Carbonetti: If you are referring to the Amtrak Silver Star head-on with a stopped CSX train in a siding in South Carolina, the PTC wasn’t “disabled”. The wayside signal system /ctc had been taken out of service in order to cut in the PTC overlay and #91 was operating on written instructions issued by the train dispatcher.

  2. The trailing train probably should have been traveling under restricted speed rules. Which with PTC wouldn’t have been faster than 19 mph even though the rules allow for 20. PTC does not like 20 and will initiate a penalty brake application at 20. It’s possible that there was a malfunction in the PTC system. If the train was under a restricting signal one must be prepared to stop within half the range of vision. I’d say the locomotives in the river were from train three.

  3. Nope Charles twas another Charles L blaming BNSF maintenance for a derailment when they hit a truck.

    1. Meaning me?

      If you mean me, Daryl, very likely not, Daryl. Read my post below.

      PS When have I commented on railroad maintenance before???? Not my habit.

  4. Ancora to rush out without real information such a blaring statement is tackiness to the extreme and an obvious example of their poor leadership skills — more an exaggerated political claim rather than measured remarks.

    1. JAMES ====== It’s the kind of low-end scuzz you would expect on the public comment page under an article on the Fox News web site.

      One thing I learned in my career is NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER comment on an incident until you’ve read the incident report. Even then be very careful what you say. Or say nothing.

      Knowledgable generic comments are fine and helpful, such as Thomas Dupree’s expert post below. What’s not good is specific comments on a specific incident. Or pointing fingers.

    2. To re-emphasize Mr.Lanhey’s remarks, it has become too standard for the remarks by Ancora, and the style isn’t limited to Fox News, all the media outlets are the same.

      First things are safety of public and employees; stabilization of scene including controlling any fire, securing and stopping any environmental damage. Then accessing further recovery; afterwards review what happened.

      Spouting off remarks are showing what lightweights you are.

  5. PTC enforces speed restrictions, signal compliance and track occupation authorities, among other safety enhancements. It is not designed to prevent rear-end collisions. Compliance with Restricted Speed requirements to “stop within one-half the range of vision” is entireIf up to the crew. If that additional layer of safety is to be required of PTC, rear-of-train detection will have to be provided.

    It is possible that PTC was shut off.

    1. I was wondering about that, too. Could this have been another situation like the CSX-Amtrak collision where, for some reason, PTC was disabled? Just speculation and, I suppose as all of us, better to wait for the final report.

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