Three trains involved in ‘collision and derailment’ in eastern Pennsylvania; no injuries reported

The township's police chief, Thomas Barndt, said arriving emergency personnel found “multiple trains derailed” but no reported injuries.

A train derailment

This photo provided by Nancy Run Fire Company shows a train derailment along a riverbank in Saucon Township, Pa., on Saturday, March 2, 2024. Authorities said it was unclear how many cars were involved but no injuries or hazardous materials were reported. (Nancy Run Fire Company via AP)

Authorities say three trains were involved in a collision and derailment in eastern Pennsylvania on Saturday morning that caused no reported injuries or evacuations but left some railroad cars scattered along a riverbank and at least one partially in the river.

Officials in Northampton County said the derailment was reported at about 7:15 a.m. in Lower Saucon Township along the Lehigh River. The township’s police chief, Thomas Barndt, said arriving emergency personnel found “multiple trains derailed” but no reported injuries. No hazardous materials were involved and no evacuations were ordered, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said preliminary information indicates an eastbound Norfolk Southern train struck another Norfolk Southern train that had stopped on the same track. Wreckage from the striking train spilled onto an adjacent track and was struck by a westbound Norfolk Southern train, the NTSB said in an email to The Associated Press.

Authorities said the collision led to the derailment of an unknown number of cars, but there were no reported injuries or release of hazardous materials. A team “comprised of experts in train operations, signals and train control, mechanical systems, and human performance” was expected to arrive later in the day, the NTSB email said.

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Nancy Run Fire Company posted pictures showing a number of railroad cars scattered along the riverbank and at least one partially in the water. Local officials told reporters some ropes were used to assist some personnel to reach the roadway from the riverbank after the derailment.

Barndt said containment booms were deployed after diesel fuel spilled into the river. Norfolk Southern called it a small diesel fuel leak “common when locomotives are involved” that was contained with the booms and would be “vacuumed out.”

Norfolk Southern also said plastic pellets spilled from one car, predominantly onto the ground, and that would also be cleaned up. The company praised “the quick, professional response by local emergency agencies.”

Gary Weiland, who lives across the river in Bethlehem Township, told The (Allentown) Morning Call he initially heard what sounded like a crash, then a period of quiet followed by the sound of another crash.

“As the second one was happening, I went upstairs and looked out the window and saw a splash. I said to my wife, ‘I think a train derailed.’” Weiland said.

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