Derailments are unacceptable

Published 9:25 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Monday brought news of the second train derailment in Suffolk in the last 16 months.

Both derailments happened dangerously close to people’s homes and disrupted traffic. Monday’s derailment of an intermodal train operated by Commonwealth Railway was only the latest. Fortunately, this derailment involved no hazardous materials. Last February’s derailment spilled plenty of dirty coal mere feet from residents’ bedrooms.

Monday’s derailment was an outbound shuttle train that originated at Virginia International Gateway. Like many trains that come through town, it was carrying intermodal containers.


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With the large number of trains through Suffolk, the city should demand better care of the tracks within its borders and the trains that travel on them. Two derailments in such a short span of time, even if unrelated, is unacceptable.

The February 2017 derailment dumped tons of coal into a residential neighborhood and closed up a main road through that neighborhood for several days. Nearby buildings were damaged, and residents’ lives were disrupted.

On Monday, the derailed cars caused consternation for nearby residents who have long been concerned about the safety of the tracks that cut through their neighborhood with nothing but a fence in between the tracks and the yards where their children and pets play.

We call upon Commonwealth Railway, CSX and Norfolk Southern, as well as the Port of Virginia, to remedy this conduct a full inspection of their facilities and make any necessary repairs immediately so that future derailments can potentially be avoided.