Work to repair Northeast Corridor tracks damaged in derailment could take up to month, officials say

Crews work at the scene of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailment in Ridley Park. The derailment has affected service on both Amtrak and SEPTA trains.

Work to repair tracks damaged by a freight train derailment on the Northeast Corridor in Delaware County late Wednesday could take up to a month, officials said.

The repairs are continuing to disrupt service on Amtrak and SEPTA’s Wilmington/Newark Regional Rail route.

SEPTA posted a special limited service schedule early Friday and advised Wilmington/Newark Line riders they faced  “significant” disruptions, as only two of four tracks are now available on the heavily traveled route. Amtrak would honor SEPTA passes on trains between Wilmington and 30th Street Station, the transit agency said.

“The Amtrak repairs could take up to four weeks, and the special service schedule will remain in place until further notice,” SEPTA said.

SEPTA anticipated being able to provide 75 percent of their normal service. While repairs are ongoing the last train departing on the line in either direction will be shortly after 7 p.m.

Amtrak trains also will face delays, as they will have to travel at reduced speeds through the work area. Those delays should be limited to five to 10 minutes, though, Amtrak officials said.

Two hopper cars on a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed between SEPTA’s Eddystone and Crum Lynne stations about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. The 88-car freight train was carrying crushed stone from Birdsboro, Pa., and Edgemoor, Del., and was pulled by two locomotives, a railroad spokesman said.

The derailed cars were the last two on the train and one overturned, spilling its load.

The derailment happened on Track Three, Amtrak officials said. The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating and inspectors were at the scene Thursday morning, an FRA spokesman said.

Two freight trains a day, one in each direction, travel on that stretch of track near the I-95 overpass in Ridley Township, Amtrak said. The speed limit in that area is 110 mph for passenger trains and 50 mph for freight trains.

The incident happened only a few miles north of the site of another derailment two years ago. In April 2016, two Amtrak workers were killed while cleaning the tracks in Chester when an Amtrak train was mistakenly routed onto a track adjacent to where the workers were.

Highlights of SEPTA’s special schedule for the Wilmington/Newark Line include:

  • Stations with no service: There will be no train service at the Highland Avenue and Curtis Park stations.
  • Trains that won’t run: Morning outbound (toward Wilmington/Newark) Trains 1293 (departing Suburban Station at 4:51 a.m.) and 4211 (departing Suburban at 6:34 a.m.) will not operate. Customers should consider taking Media/Elwyn Line trains as an alternate.
  • Trains with adjusted service or times: Morning inbound (toward Center City) Trains 220 (departing Wilmington at 6:03 a.m.) and 9216 (departing Marcus Hook at 7:59 a.m.) will operate with adjusted service. Customers should refer to the special timetable for additional information. Selected afternoon outbound trains will operate earlier than regularly scheduled or at different times. All trains will discharge or pick up passengers at stops but may depart ahead of schedule.
  • Earlier end of service: To accommodate the staging of equipment at the work site, all service will end no later than 9 p.m. SEPTA will schedule buses to provide evening service.