Train derailment sends rail cars tumbling down hillside in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- Seven rail cars from a freight train derailed in Pittsburgh, sending shipping containers tumbling down a hillside onto light rail tracks below, but no injuries have been reported, authorities said.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Jim Glass said the cars derailed on the South Side of Pittsburgh near Station Square shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday, and no hazardous materials were involved.

Shipping containers from the derailed cars slid down the hillside onto or near the light rail Port Authority tracks, said Adam Brandolph of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Brandolph says there has been "extensive damage" that likely will take a long time to repair. Light rail service at the station was suspended.

"Our folks are determining the best ways to shuttle several thousand people from the (Pittsburgh) Pirates game and Three Rivers Regatta" in addition to preparing for Monday morning's rush hour, Brandolph said. Chris Togneri, the city's public safety spokesman, warned commuters that they can "count on a long rush hour tomorrow."

Glass said the westbound train heading from northern New Jersey to Chicago consisted of three locomotives and 57 loaded intermodal rail cars, and was 7,687 feet (2,343 meters) long and weighed 4,838 tons (4,389 metric tons). Such trains primarily carry consumer goods such as appliances, clothes, electronics and food, he said.

Port Authority CEO Katharine Eagan Kelleman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that people were at the station during the derailment, but an off-board fare collector, who she knew only as "Princess," helped out.

"As soon as she saw (the derailment), she cleared people on both platforms. She kept everyone calm," Kelleman said.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation. Glass said two divisions of a contract company that specializes in re-railing cars and derailment cleanup are heading to the site along with two additional excavators.

At the scene, authorities said the only spillage was mouthwash, the Post-Gazette reported.

"If you smell something, it's Listerine. It's not hazardous," Togneri said.

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