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Report: Improper Use of Hand Brakes, Empty Cars Cause of 2017 Hyndman Derailment

December 23rd, 2020 by WCBC Radio

The Cumberland Times News reports the 2017 derailment of a CSX Transportation freight train in Hyndman, Pennsylvania, was caused by the improper use of hand brakes on empty rail cars and placement of empty cars at the front of the 178-car train. That is according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The final report on the derailment that forced evacuation of more than 1,000 Hyndman residents was issued by the NTSB this week — more than three years after the pre-dawn derailment of the train on Aug. 2 that included 70 cars carrying hazardous materials.

One of the cars loaded with propane ignited, prompting emergency crews to withdraw from the scene at Hogback Road and Schellsburg Street at the northern outskirts of the Bedford County town.

More than 30 cars derailed, destroying at least one residence and a garage and displacing residents in the immediate area of the incident for nine days.

Following the derailment, CSX crews and investigators were on the scene for several days along with NTSB investigators and numerous contractors taking part in the cleanup operation.

The NTSB issued three safety recommendations to CSX in its final report, including revising rules on building trains to place large blocks of empty cars near the end of a train; prohibiting use of hand brakes on empty cars to control train speed and incorporating lessons about the hazards of fire in tank cars in first-responder training.

CSX said it was reviewing the recommendations of the NTSB prior to the railway's formal response.