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HARRISBURG, PA – A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed on the Rockville Bridge that spans the Susquehanna River and sent two empty containers over the side of the bridge and into the river.

Double-stacked containers teetering on the Rockville Bridge in Harrisburg, PA after a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed due to high winds.

Harrisburg is in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania in the central part of the state about 107 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The derailment happened on Monday, December 27, 2010 about 4:20 p.m. in the afternoon. The Rockville Bridge runs between Marysville and Harrisburg. The train was heading toward Chicago when the derailment occurred.

Although there is no definitive cause for the derailment yet, officials say that high winds were the likely cause.

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At the time of the derailment the westbound 48-car train was crossing the bridge between Susquehanna Township and Marysville.

Fortunately, there were no injuries reported and no railroad workers were hurt as a result of the mishap. Also, there were no hazardous materials involved so no one had to be evacuated.

Tracks run in both directions across the bridge. Amtrak passenger trains were scheduled to cross the bridge, but, due to the incident, service was temporarily interrupted between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

Location of the NS train derailment on the Rockville Bridge between Harrisburg and Marysville, PA.

According to a spokesman from Amtrak, temporary bus service was used for the Tuesday morning train to Harrisburg from western Pennsylvania at 7:20 a.m. Amtrak expected that the same would apply to the afternoon train as well and paid for the bus fare.

Officials believe that a strong gust of wind caused the train to derail and blow the containers into the bridge. The containers on the freight train were double stacked.

Crews spent a long, cold night working to clear the bridge and get the train back on the tracks. After the tracks were cleared a little after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the Rockville Bridge was re-opened.

An investigation into the incident is currently under way, but a spokesman from Norfolk Southern said that the derailment appeared to be caused by high winds.


Published by FELA lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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