Train cars derail, back up tracks

PORTAGE – A Norfolk Southern train partially derailed Wednesday afternoon, stopping all mainline rail traffic through the area.

Three railcars carrying stone ballast derailed about 12:40 p.m. and spilled their contents across all three rail lines, said David Pidgeon, Norfolk Southern public relations manager. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

No one was injured and no hazardous material was involved in the incident, Pidgeon said.

Cambria 911 officials confirmed no hazardous material was involved in the derailment. No area fire or EMS units were dispatched, 911 officials said.

The derailment affected Amtrak’s westbound Pennsylvanian train, which travels from New York to Pittsburgh, Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said. The eastbound Pennsylvanian passed through the area before the derailment.

Passengers on the westbound train were transported around the derailment by buses. While the train stopped at Altoona in its regular fashion, allowing passengers to disembark, it could go no further west. Amtrak passengers from eastern Pennsylvania boarded buses in Harrisburg to travel to the Pittsburgh area.

“Depending on how quickly cleanup efforts go,” Schulz said, all Amtrak routes might operate as usual this morning.

Part of the freight train with the derailed cars could be seen from Portage Street in the borough as crews worked to clear the tracks. The train had been heading west from Birdsboro, located eight miles southeast of Reading, to Bellevue, Ohio.

Crews did not know Wednesday evening when the lines would reopen to rail traffic, Pidgeon said.

Judy Fleegle, who lives in Summerhill Township between Wilmore and Portage, heard the train derailment Wednesday afternoon.

“It did sound worse than normal,” Fleegle said of the noise from the rail lines, behind her home.

Upright train cars were stopped on the rails behind the Fleegle residence.