Railroads on the mend after Hurricane Florence

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – As remnants of Hurricane Florence drench parts of central Appalachia Monday, railroads in the Carolinas are in the process of restoring rail service, evaluating flood damages, and cleaning up a derailment.

In a weekend customer service advisory issued by CSX Transportation, the railroad confirmed rail service had been restored in the Rocky Mount area and between Florida and lower Georgia as far north as Charleston, S.C., but there was no update on the status of the railroad’s mainline between Rocky Mount and Florence S.C., as of Monday morning.

The Saturday advisory was the latest information the railroad could provide, a spokesperson confirmed with News Wire when asked about the status of the railroad’s mainline south from Rocky Mount along its South End Subdivision. News Wire also asked about freight service on CSX’s Wilmington Subdivision, but the railroad did not have any update on that segment, deferring comment to customer service advisories the railroad continues updating online.

North Carolina Ports, which operates port facilities in Wilmington and Morehead City, issued a weekend advisory saying both facilities would remain closed through Wednesday with an operational update not expected until Tuesday.

Wilmington and neighboring communities in southeastern North Carolina received more than 15 inches of rain, powerful storm surges, and gusty winds. Further inland in communities like Fayetteville, local leaders urged Sunday evacuations along the Cape Fear and Little rivers due to rising waters that were likely to reach unprecedented levels. Fayetteville is located on CSX’s South End Subdivision, part of the A Line, which was not yet operational as of Monday morning.

And flooded right-of-ways and fallen trees weren’t the only issues CSX was facing in the Tar Heel State headed into the first of the week.

Near Lilesville, N.C., on the railroad’s Monroe Subdivision west of Rockingham, a Hamlet-bound freight train derailed multiple locomotives and freight cars late Sunday evening around 6 p.m. local time. The train crew was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries.

"Overnight CSX determined a total of nine locomotives and five railcars derailed. None of the derailed cars were carrying hazardous material and none spilled their contents," the railroad says in a statement to Trains News Wire. "Some of the locomotives released an undetermined amount of diesel fuel and motor oil, and CSX is coordinating closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the recovery process."

The railroad has not confirmed with News Wire if weather played a role in the incident, but photos from the scene show parts of the right-of-way near the derailment flooded with water.

Weather data also revealed that nearly 5 inches of rain had fallen in the area of Lilesville in the previous 24 hours.

To assist with the flood recovery efforts, R.J. Corman has deployed several storm teams across much of the Mid-Atlantic region. Company spokesman Todd Bivins tells News Wire that storm teams provide multiple services before and after natural disasters, including railroad reconstruction and rehabilitation, generator deployment, temporary base camp infrastructure, cleanup, and repairing flood damage and washouts.

Bivins says storm teams have been dispatched across South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

R.J. Corman also suspended rail operation on its Carolina Lines last Thursday. The company operates 103.3 miles of freight railroad between Mullens, S.C., east to Whiteville, N.C., and south to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Bivins says the company will begin assessing track conditions this week as flood waters recede.

News Wire has requested Monday morning updates from affected railroads and will update the story as more information becomes available.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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