CSX crews and contractors are working around the clock to clear a massive freight train derailment that has kept Route 5 closed and halted all railroad traffic since Thursday morning.
A crew foreman on the scene estimated the tracks will likely be cleared and repaired by this morning, allowing some rail traffic to pass. The foreman, who wouldn’t give his name, estimated Route 5 would reopen by late afternoon or early evening.
“We’ve still got quite a bit left to do,” he said.
Workers have toiled around the clock in an effort to clear wreckage from the tracks. And by late afternoon Friday, they started laying sections of new track over those damaged when the two trains derailed.
CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said the cause of the wreck remains under investigation, but he said railroad officials are confident at least one track will be open today and the other by Sunday.
“Efforts are under way to clear derailed cars from the railroad and to continue cleaning up the diesel fuel that spilled as a result of the accident,” he said Friday.
Federal authorities are now investigating what caused two trains moving in opposite directions to sideswipe one another Thursday morning. The accident occurred about a mile west of Fonda and threw debris and one rail car onto nearby Route 5, which runs parallel to the tracks.
The eastbound train traveling from Indiana to Selkirk had four locomotives and 126 freight cars. The westbound train was headed from Selkirk to Pennsylvania with two locomotives and 83 cars.
The accident derailed a total of four engines and 45 cars. Despite the wide breadth of damage caused by the massive crash that spilled onto a busy thoroughfare, only minor injuries were sustained by an engineer and conductor aboard one of the trains.
The crash also didn’t cause any toxic chemicals to spill. Still, officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation placed an absorbent boom across a small tributary running near the crash site into the badly swollen Mohawk River.
On Friday, Amtrak announced it would use charter buses to move passenger traffic impacted by the crash beyond the site of the wreck. Two trains running between Rensselaer and Niagara Falls were cancelled.
The wreckage was easily visible from across the river on Route 5S, a short distance outside of Fultonville. Throughout the day Friday, dozens of curious onlookers gathered on the side of the bustling highway to watch crews hoist mangled cars from the tracks.