Passenger train derails in US, no critical injuries reported
An Amtrak passenger train headed from Vermont to Washington, D.C., on Monday hit rocks that had fallen onto the track from a ledge, spilling the locomotive and a passenger car down an embankment, derailing three other cars and injuring seven people, authorities said.
The Vermonter train carrying 98 passengers and four crew members derailed at around 10:30 a.m. in Northfield, about 30 kilometers southwest of Montpelier. Officials with the Federal Railroad Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
“This was a freak of nature,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said at a news conference.
One of those injured was airlifted to a New Hampshire hospital and was being evaluated The six others went to a local hospital with injuries including neck, back and shoulder pains and lightheadedness.
Amtrak said a crew member was hospitalized with non-lifethreatening injuries but four other people were released by Monday evening.
The Federal Railroad Administration said a crew member was seriously injured. Four of those hospitalized were released by Monday evening, Amtrak said.
The track where the crash occurred had been part of a US$220 million upgrade of New England Central Railroad tracks funded with help from a US$50 million federal recovery grant.
“There is no reason to believe there was any negligence on anyone’s part,” Shumlin said. “We don’t have all the details, but this track was rebuilt. It was a state-ofthe-art track. Ledge slides happen.”
The stretch of tracks where the derailment occurred is part of the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad. The region near the derailment site received 6.35 centimeters on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
State officials said a freight train had passed over the same tracks Sunday night with no problems.
Officials said there’s no technology that could have alerted the crew to the slide.
“There is not really anything that’s going to detect this kind of thing,” said Dan Delabruere, the rail chief of the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
Numerous derailments around the world have been caused by debris on tracks, many linked to heavy rains that trigger slides or heavy winds that knock down trees. In 2010, a train in Beijing hit mounds of debris left on the track following a landslide, killing 19 people.
Company officials confirmed details of the crash but did not immediately provide a comment.
Bob Redmond, of Bay City, Michigan, was sitting in the front row of the third car while on a foliage tour when the train derailed. He looked out the window and saw the car that had been ahead of his was now alongside him.
“It was just going the other way, and we started tipping sideways and down we went,” he said.
Besides sending the locomotive and a passenger car over an embankment, the crash knocked three cars off the track. They remained upright.
“We were fortunate when you see what happened,” Redmond said. “It could’ve been a whole lot worse, that’s for sure.”
Passengers helped others after the crash. Redmond said since he was in the front row, he got off the train first, and he and others started helping people off the train.
In this aerial photo responders stand near railroad tracks, right, at the scene of an Amtrak passenger train derailment in Northfield, Vermont, Monday, Oct. 5.