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.

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