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Crews still on scene of Ayer train derailment

A freight train derailed Thursday afternoon in Ayer, officials said. Crews were still working to remove the train cars and freight on Friday.Emily Sweeney

Crews were still on the scene in Ayer Friday working to remove train cars and sealed containers of trash and recycling material dislodged when a freight train derailed Thursday morning, an incident that is slowing MBTA commuter rail traffic, officials said.

Repair crews have been working to remove the derailed cars since the incident took place around 11:30 am. Thursday. According to the Ayer Fire Department, no hazardous materials were released as a result of the derailment. No crew members were injured, the company said.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, which had investigators on the scene on Friday afternoon, the train was operated by Pan Am Railways, which is owned by CSX Transportation. Norfolk-Southern Railway, the company linked to a catastrophic train derailment in February in East Palestine, Ohio, was not involved in this incident, according to the FRA.


The rail line is jointly owned by CSX and Norfolk-Southern Railway, though “the line is operated and maintained by a wholly-owned subsidiary of CSX,” Norfolk-Southern said in an e-mail to the Globe on Thursday.

In a statement on Friday, CSX said the recovery effort was ongoing as of 9:30 a.m. Friday and will continue until the area is cleared of train cars and the freight it was carrying.

“Crews are working to safely re-rail the five intermodal cars while not impeding commuter rail service,” CSX said in a statement Friday. As of 9:30 a.m. this morning, four of the derailed containers have been recovered and moved from the site. Recovery efforts will continue until the area is fully cleared and restored.”

According to CSX, the derailment did not cause environmental damage in the Middlesex County town because the dislodged containers carrying trash and recycling material were not pierced when they tumbled off the train cars.

“There were no releases to the environment,’' the company said.


According to Keolis Commuter Services, the derailment is adding 5 to 10 minutes travel time for passengers on the Fitchburg line as the trains slow down to move past the repair site.

“Fitchburg Line passengers are experiencing delays of 5-10 min this morning as trains slow to accommodate crews working to re-rail the train from yesterday’s derailment in CSX territory,” Keolis said in a statement Friday morning. “Additionally, passengers are experiencing some minor delays due to an unrelated signal issue. Crews have responded to the signal issue and hope to have that resolved soon.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is not investigating as the FRA has primary responsibility for safety issue in the rail system.

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.