Broken rail suspected cause of Suffolk train derailment

Suffolk Train Derailment

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A broken rail is believed to have caused eight cars and a locomotive to come off of the tracks last week, shutting down the railroad and causing damage to some backyards.

“A broken or cracked rail is how our investigators described it to me,” Andrew Farmer, a spokesperson for the State Corporation Commission said on Tuesday. 

The SCC’s Railroad Regulation section works in concert with the Federal Railroad Administration to ensure safe operations of railroads within the Commonwealth and is continuing to examine what occurred in Suffolk a week ago.

“Inspectors went out there and looked at the locomotives, the car, the rails, and the entire track bed,” Farmer said. “The broken rail is now being sent to a lab so we can determine what caused the rail to fail.”

The tracks are owned by the Commonwealth Railway, Inc. It’s a short line that runs from Suffolk to the West Norfolk area of Portsmouth.

“The inspectors looked at that track a week before the incident and were not aware of any issues with it,” Farmer said. “This is certainly a mystery we have to figure out.”

It was Monday May 7 around 4 p.m. when the derailment happened in the Suffolk Meadows neighborhood, in the area of Shoulders Hill Road and Baron Boulevard, according to Diana Klink with the City of Suffolk. No injuries were reported, however, Chopper 10 showed significant damage to the roadbed and train cars entering some backyards.

The train that derailed was coming from the Virginia International Gateway port and mainly consisted of empty well cars, carrying Intermodal containers, according to a release sent by the Port of Virginia. Less than 100 freight containers were aboard and their operations were not heavily disrupted. 

Crews quickly cleaned up the mess and the track was back in operation by 11 p.m. May 9 according to Michael Williams with Commonwealth Railroad. 

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