On September 27th 2016 somewhere between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. a CSX locomotive caught fire in Ashland. Here is what is known so far:
- The train was being hauled by three locomotives. It was the third locomotive that had the fire.
- The locomotive was located in the region of West Patrick St., adjacent to the Randolph-Macon tennis courts.
- The train was heading south.
- The fire was extinguished and the locomotive was removed.
- The train consisted of coal wagons only.
- There are no reports of injuries or damage to other property.
- It is possible that the cause of the event was unburned fuel caking up on the turbocharger and catching fire.
We are continuing to research this event in order to find more details.
The background is that we are analyzing safety issues to do with the proposed High Speed Rail project. The current situation with regard to safety is, in our judgment, unacceptable. Here are some basic facts.
- Approximately 62 freight trains a day travel through Ashland.
- 6% of the cars carry Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHCs) — chemicals that can explode, burn or release a vapor cloud of toxic gas. (“Empty” cars generally contain 3% of the original contents and can actually be more hazardous than full cars.) Some of the most severe chemicals used in American industry travel through our town.
- We can analyze the effect of a leak (large or small) using EPA-authorized software.
A preliminary risk analysis indicates that we are above the threshold of “acceptable risk”. However, we live with the situation because “That’s the way it’s always been” (just as we live with the fact that the current track spacing does not meet code). However, adding more trains, many of them with many more cars, will create a safety situation that is not acceptable.
The following posts provide information on some of the safety analysis work that we have done so far.
- 1969 Derailment near Ashland
- The Texas Panhandle Derailment — 2016
- The Lynchburg Derailment — 2014
- Safety Impact #1: Two Car Lengths
- Safety Impact #2: Tier I Evaluation
- Safety Impact #3: Amtrak Incident
- Letter to DRPT — Attachment A
If anyone can provide further information on these or other events that are pertinent to the safety of trains through Ashland, please let us know.