Nearby Business Rolls with the Punches after Train Derailment

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Crews continue to clean up more than 1,000 tons of coal from a train derailment in southern Albemarle County on Thursday. Saturday, the derailment forced one nearby business to switch gears. 

The coal train heading for Newport News made a big mess when it went off the tracks while crossing Warren Ferry Road Thursday evening. The derailment is also blocking the main drop-off point for James River Runners.

"Well our first great Saturday of good river levels, we had a train derailment," said Paige Wilkes, owner of James River Runners.

Between heavy rains and tons of coal, the James River Runners at Hatton Ferry hasn't had the easiest time getting customers on the water. But they're doing their best to stay afloat.

"We couldn't put in at Warren, our typical put-in spot, so we're kind of just having to be flexible and put in at our Hatton Ferry location and float on down to Scottsville," Wilkes said. 

The train derailed Thursday evening right along the company's main starting point for river excursions.

"The railroad crossing up at Warren was completely taken down, so they're repairing that now.  We're not going to be able to have it up in time for us to cross safely with our buses," Wilkes said. 

A CSX transportation spokesperson says crews have been working around the clock, cleaning up spilled coal, re-railing train cars and fixing broken track. 

A total of 31 cars derailed, 12 of which completely overturned. But James River Runners is determined to stay on track and get people floating through natural or manmade disasters. 

"I think because of the rainy season that we've had, people are happy just to be getting on the river today so no matter what section, they want to get in and cool off," Wilkes said. "I'm hoping that this is like the kick-off for the rest of the year and that we have some good floating weekends ahead of us." 

CSX says it hopes to restore service on the track late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. 

The cause of the train derailment is still under investigation and will likely not be determined for several days.

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