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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Several cars on a Norfolk Southern train derailed near Station Square on Sunday afternoon and crashed onto the light rail tracks.

It happened just after 1 p.m. as a train traveling from North Jersey to Chicago was passing above the Station Square T station.

train derailment 014 Freight Train Cars Derail Near Station Square, Crash Onto T Tracks

(Photo Credit: NewsChopper 2/KDKA)

According to Norfolk Southern officials, seven rail cars on a Norfolk Southern double-stack intermodal train transporting shipping containers derailed.

“One of the calls came in, it was dispatched apparently that there were cars hanging off Mt. Washington, and they were figuring, ‘Yeah, right,’ until they came across the Smithfield Street Bridge and saw it for themselves,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.

train derailment 025 Freight Train Cars Derail Near Station Square, Crash Onto T Tracks

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Dave Colabine)

The cars were transporting consumer goods, including houseware, food and beverages, mouth wash and other common household products. There were no hazardous materials involved.

A few people were standing on the T platform at the time of the derailment, but no one was injured.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW —

 

Jesse Frazier was waiting for an inbound T when heard something that sounded like “fighter jets” and saw someone on the platform across from him start running.

“I did the same because I didn’t know what was behind me, if it was going to be a domino effect, so I just took off running and it felt like an earthquake,” Frazier said. “Luckily I wasn’t standing on the very end of the platform because, I mean, it happened within feet of where I was standing, but I got lucky.”

train derailment 024 Freight Train Cars Derail Near Station Square, Crash Onto T Tracks

(Photo Credit: Jesse James Frazier)

Witness Lexi Bubacz and her dad were across West Carson Street when they heard the crash.

“It sounded like a bunch of thunder. You just heard all the rumble,” Bubacz said. “So as soon as we got up here, you could see all the cars off the track, down the walls, on the trolley station.”

train derailment 8 Freight Train Cars Derail Near Station Square, Crash Onto T Tracks

(Photo Credit: KDKA Viewer)

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation, but officials have ruled out a rock slide as a potential cause.

In a statement, Norfolk Southern said, “Norfolk Southern’s top priority is public safety as we coordinate recovery efforts with local first responders. Norfolk Southern has two divisions of a contract company that specializes in rerailing rail cars and derailment cleanup and two additional excavators en route.”

train derailment 026 Freight Train Cars Derail Near Station Square, Crash Onto T Tracks

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

As evening set in, the clean-up was just beginning. Heavy equipment that will be used to hoist the wreckage and clear the debris was on the scene, and the cars still on the tracks were moved.

Officials initially estimated it would take about 72 hours to remove the cars. Hissrich said around 11:20 p.m. Sunday that they were ahead of schedule.

Watch Kym Gable’s late report —

 

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The Smithfield Street Bridge was expected to be closed through the Monday morning rush. West Carson Street will remain closed through the duration of the car removal operation.

The Port Authority said all inbound rail vehicles will serve South Hills Junction, use the tracks that run through the city’s Allentown neighborhood, cross the Monongahela River and serve all Downtown light rail stations.

The Port Authority said the closure of the Smithfield Street Bridge would affect as many as 18 bus routes:

39 -Brookline 40 -Mount Washington
41 -Bower Hill 43 -Bailey
44 -Knoxville 48 -Arlington
51 -Carrick 51L -Carrick Limited
FACT-LeMont Furnace, Pa – Pittsburgh Commuter MMV -CalCommuter
MMV -Commuter A – Donora – Pittsburgh MMV -Commuter B – Donora – Pittsburgh Express
RAIL-Red, Blue, SL Bus Substitution Routings Y1 -Large Flyer
Y45 -Baldwin Manor Flyer Y46 -Elizabeth Flyer
Y47 -Curry Flyer Y49 -Prospect Flyer