(Scott County, Kentucky – March 18, 2018)
Four Norfolk Southern Railroad employees were injured and dozens of residents of a rural Scott County, KY community near Lexington were evacuated from their homes to Lemons Mill Elementary School late Sunday night about 11:15 P.M. after a northbound NS freight train ran through a track switch and struck a stopped southbound NS train head-on.
All the residents of two trailer park communities and other homes near the site of the collision were evacuated. The derailment resulted in heavy damage to at least four locomotives and 15 rail freight cars. The collision also started a fire which fueled concerns over hazardous materials contained in the trains’ consists.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” according to Lexington TV news station WKYT, Lexington Fire Department emergency responders evacuated all residents within a large circle surrounding the crash site. Meanwhile, the injured train crew members, two from each train, were all taken to a Lexington hospital for treatment of their crash-induced injuries.
A daily average of 75 NS trains use the single-to-double track junction daily.
Following LFD determination that no chemicals had leaked from any of the trains’ cars, residents were allowed to return home several hours later, early Monday morning.
It has yet to be determined if the long-sought, Congressionally-mandated Positive Train Control system could have prevented Sunday night’s accident. PTC utilizes satellite technology to halt and thus prevent or lessen the severity of train collisions through stopping or slowing trains on eminent collision courses, and which railroad industry reluctance has instead slowed the launching of PTS time and time again.