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Rail tracks back in service after Prescott freight train derailment

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PRESCOTT — Crews remained at the scene of a train derailment here on Saturday.

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Most of the cars that had derailed in the Thursday morning collision involving two freight trains just west of the Edward Street overpass had been cleared from the scene as of late Friday afternoon.

One crew member was injured in the incident, OPP and CN Rail reported on Thursday.

The process of clearing what CN had indicated were about 16 derailed cars continued through the night and Friday. Rail tracks just west of the overpass had been removed by early Friday morning; a section of damaged track just east of the overpass was being replaced late Friday afternoon.

Two locomotives remained on their sides near the siding on the northern edge of the main line on Saturday afternoon.

In an update issued late Friday afternoon, CN Rail indicated that the south track was scheduled to return to operation by 8 p.m. Friday. Partial service was indeed restored on Friday night; trains at reduced speeds began to make their way through Prescott again.

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By mid-afternoon on Saturday, the north track had been replaced and was in use.

“Both tracks have now been safely reopened and trains circulation has resumed,” CN stated in a release on Saturday.

“Crews will continue to work with local first responders to safely clear the remaining derailed locomotives and cars.”

The collision and derailment did not cause a fire, and no hazardous materials were reportedly involved. There was a minor fuel leak from a locomotive, according to CN.

“I want to thank our dedicated Prescott volunteer Fire Department for such outstanding work on the scene, along with our always impressive partners with the Grenville OPP, all other first responders, and of course, CN,” Prescott Mayor Brett Todd stated in a town news release Thursday.

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PRESCOTT — An eastbound freight track on the north track passes the derailment site near the Edward Street overpass in Prescott on Saturday afternoon.
PRESCOTT — An eastbound freight track on the north track passes the derailment site near the Edward Street overpass in Prescott on Saturday afternoon. SunMedia

Todd also said the outcome could have been much worse, noting that infrastructure such as the overpass was spared serious damage.

The investigation into the cause of the collision and derailment is ongoing, CN Rail indicated.

“CN would like to apologize for the inconvenience resulting from this incident.”

The company has not confirmed in its statements how many rail cars in total were on the tracks at the time of the collision and derailment and how many crew members were involved. All were taken to hospital as a precaution, CN reported on Thursday.

Although the overpass was open to vehicles and pedestrians, the town had asked the public to avoid congregating on the structure and near the derailment scene. There were dozens of people standing on the overpass and watching the activity below late Friday afternoon. There were about 20 people there late Saturday afternoon.

The Boundary Street crossing, which had been blocked by rail cars on the north track following the collision and derailment, reopened to traffic late Thursday night.

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