Six cars tip over as freight train derails in Bristol

Published on Wednesday, 10 July 2019 19:30


BRISTOL - Six train cars toppled over and ended up on their side when the majority of a train derailed in Bristol early Wednesday morning.

Police said the incident was reported around 6 a.m., when a seven-car Pan Am Railways freight train partially came off the rails in the area of Riverside Avenue and Mellen Street. The conductor did not initially realize a car had derailed, causing more cars to tip over. Six train cars were left on their side in the area of Hooker Court.

No injuries were reported, and police said there were no hazmat concerns.

Mellen Street was initially closed to traffic but reopened later in the morning.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Bristol Police Lt. Geoffrey Lund.

Cynthia Scarano, executive vice president of Pan Am Railways, said the train was carrying trash and scrap metal.

The track will likely be closed for at least a few days, as a “massive crane” from out of state will need to be brought in to remove the toppled over train cars, according to Lund.

Bristol Deputy Fire Chief John Ziogas estimated that it will take three to five days to get the train away from the derailment site. Crews were putting new tracks down late Wednesday in the area where the train left the tracks. The train will be flipped back onto its wheels and taken away over the next several days, Ziogas said.

Lund said that Pan Am has its own police force that is investigating the cause of the derailment. Pan Am officials could be seen Wednesday removing debris and inspecting the track at the train overpass near Mellen Street and Riverside Avenue.

A spokesman with the National Transportation Safety Board said the agency was not investigating the derailment as of late morning. The NTSB is gathering information and will announce on its Twitter account if an investigation is launched, the spokesman said.

Scarano said the investigation into the cause of the derailment will involve multiple departments within Pan Am. As of early Wednesday afternoon, the investigation was being handled internally, she added.

One of the first things officials look for when a train derails is an issue with the track.

“We did not find a broken rail at the spot of the derailment,” Scarano said. “The track could still be the cause.”

Investigators will also look at the black box on the train, which is similar to black boxes found on airplanes that provide information about how it was being operated at the time of the accident, Scarano said. They will also look to see if there were any defects with the train.

“There’s a variety of things that could have caused it,” she added.

Scarano said the train was headed to Deerfield, Massachusetts. Derailments like this are fairly rare, she said.

Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Wednesday, 10 July 2019 19:30. Updated: Wednesday, 10 July 2019 19:32.