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Entries in Amtrak (12)

Sunday
Apr072013

Mudslide Derails Amtrak Passenger Train

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- A mudslide derailed several cars of an Amtrak passenger train on Sunday morning, but there were no injuries reports.

The cause of the slide is still being investigated, but the area between Seattle and Everett, Wash., where the derailement occurred, has experienced rain recently.

The slide caused a dining car and two coach cars to derail. There were passengers on board at the time of the accident, but none of them were hurt.

“We have a quarter-mile of track that was damaged due to the derailment that we have to replace...we have to repair still,” said Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Sante Fe which operates the tracks.

“A large amount of debris: mud, rock, trees, stumps slid down,” he said, describing the scene.

Melonas said that the repairs would take place overnight and during the early morning, and that the track should be put back in service by Monday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct012012

Amtrak Derails After Collision at Railroad Crossing

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(FRESNO, Calif.) -- Dozens of people were injured Monday after a tractor-trailer plowed into the side of an  Amtrak train in central California.

The driver of the truck reportedly failed to yield and hit the train, causing it to derail.  California Highway Patrol officer Scott Jobinger says the passengers were lucky the train cars didn't topple over.

"Most of them were at around 45-degree angles which would help prevent some of the injuries," he said.

Shortly after the accident, all 169 passengers and the four crew members onboard were evacuated from the train. Though no fatalities were reported, about 40 people sustained minor to major injuries, reports ABC News affiliate KFSN-TV in Fresno, Calif.  Some of the crash victims were treated at the scene, while others were transported by school buses to the Civic Auditorium in Hanford.

This is the third time in four years an Amtrak train has collided with a vehicle at the same railroad crossing in Handford, a town located about 40 minutes south of Fresno. While it's a rural crossing, Amtrak says it is equipped with warning lights, bells and gates -- enough that it should be apparent that a train is approaching.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug262011

Amtrak Train Derails in Southwest Nebraska

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(MAX, Neb.) -- An Amtrak train carrying approximately 175 passengers derailed in southwest Nebraska on Friday after hitting what the company described as an agricultural vehicle that obscured the tracks.

Some passengers were taken to a local hospital but there were no reports of life threatening injuries, Amtrak said.

“We are saddened by any injury and appreciate the emergency response by local and state agencies,” the company said in a statement Friday.

The train -- which left the San Francisco area on Wednesday -- was traveling from Emeryville, Calif. to Chicago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul112011

Amtrak Train Collides with Dump Truck in Maine

PRNewsFoto/Siemens(NORTH BERWICK, Maine) -- At least one person is dead after a crash involving an Amtrak train and a dump truck near North Berwick, Maine.

The rail company says there were no initial reports of serious or life threatening injuries to those aboard the Amtrak train, but attributed a single death to that of the truck driver.

“The driver of  the dump truck reportedly suffered fatal injuries,” Amtrak said in a statement Monday.

The train was approximately a half-hour from its destination of Portland, Maine, when the incident happened. Passengers were being transferred to buses to complete their trips.

Amtrak could not immediately say whether the train struck the truck or vice-versa.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Some Passengers Still Unaccounted for in Nevada Train-Truck Crash

Robert Hill(FENLEY, Nev.) -- Five people were still unaccounted Sunday night following the collision of a passenger train and truck in the Nevada desert last Friday night, which killed at least six people and sent 20 others to the hospital.

The Zephyr train was headed from Chicago to California when Amtrak officials said a truck slammed into it about 70 miles east of Reno while attempting to pass through the railroad crossing even as lights flashed and the gates were coming down.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, the truck was part of a three-vehicle convoy employed by John Davis Trucking in Battle Mountain, Nevada.

It left skids marks of more than 100 yards before hitting the side of the train at a 45-degree angle.  Since visibility was excellent, the drivers of the other trucks said they couldn't understand why the lead driver, who was also killed in the collision, kept going.

There were also reports late Sunday that John Davis Trucking was cited previously for numerous violations for crashes and unsafe conditions.  Investigators also want to check cellphone records of the driver to determine if he might have been distracted while approaching the train.

As far as those who remain unaccounted for, an NTSB official admitted the number was "spongy" because it couldn't be determined how many people might have gotten off the train after it left Chicago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun152011

Amtrak Steps Up Security Following Iowa Train Sabotage

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Amtrak says it is taking additional security countermeasures after someone tried to derail a train carrying highly flammable ethanol Sunday in Iowa.

Iowa Interstate Railroad CEO Dennis Miller said a lock was cut off a track switch box just outside Menlo, a town that sits along the rail line between Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb. The track was also "gapped open" about 2 inches, and a black bag was used to cover the switch signal so the tampering would be harder to notice. Miller said the switch tampering, and the creation of the gap in the tracks, clearly indicated to him that someone was trying to derail one of the 130-car trains that were running the track last Sunday.

On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Amtrak Chief of Police John O'Connor announced that the company is expanding its comprehensive rail security efforts to provide increased right of way protection to detect and deter terrorists seeking to derail passenger trains. 

O'Connor said threats against rail transportation are very real and "[t]he recent events after the death of [Osama] bin Laden serve as a stark reminder that these threats continue to be viable." He emphasized the terrorists' interest in derailing trains is of particular worry to Amtrak, which "operates high-speed rail trains where catastrophic losses could occur."

Amtrak said the additional security countermeasures would focus first on passenger trains, particularly those operating on the Amtrak-owned Northeast corridor. Amtrak said it already had security in place, which were focused on the threat of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in a station or on a train, or on an active shooter scenario.

Protecting stations is difficult, but protecting thousands of miles of train track is even more challenging, O'Connor said. Historically, Amtrak has used a range of security strategies, such as high security fencing, bollards, blast curtains, access control and technologically driven initiatives to protect stations, bridges and tunnels. Amtrak is exploring the expanded use of these strategies for right of way protection.

Since the U.S. raid on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan, Amtrak has bolstered track security actions, expanded patrols and reinforced employee awareness programs, O'Connor said. Journals found in bin Laden's compound after he was killed contained evidence of al Qaeda's desire to target trains and subways in the United States.

The FBI is now investigating the Iowa incident, but Bureau sources said early indications are that the incident is not a terrorism related.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Federal Railroad Officials Abandon Stranded Train

Spencer Platt/Getty Images (file)(WILMINGTON, Del.) -- Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman had an appointment to keep, and he wasn’t going to let the massive power outage that occurred Saturday on his rail line’s Northeast Corridor stop him; neither were Federal Railroad Administration chief Joseph Szabo or Amtrak board member Jeff Moreland.

The three were expected at the gala unveiling of the newly re-named “Joe Biden” train station in Wilmington, Delaware, Saturday afternoon but they found themselves among the thousands of other Amtrak passengers who were temporarily stranded on trains along the popular Washington, D.C., to New York route.

Boardman, Szabo and Moreland -- who heard just hours before that Vice President Biden was slated to make an unscheduled appearance at Saturday’s event -- abandoned a stranded Acela Express train at Baltimore’s Penn Station where an awaiting car ferried them to Wilmington.

The three railroad leaders – who were seated comfortably in the train’s First Class car and had just finished a light breakfast when the train suddenly stopped and lost power just after 9:30 a.m. – were escorted from the coach by security guards and a small entourage of assistants.

What the rail company’s CEO and his counterparts left behind was a train that remained stranded in Baltimore for more than two-and-a-half hours as Amtrak engineers scrambled to repair a broken transformer outside of Philadelphia. The train, like many others, lost electricity, including the power to flush toilets. Passengers were allowed to stretch their legs on the station’s platform.

Others followed the railroad officials’ lead -- frantically arranging to rent cars or find transportation to an airport. The train that the three were riding, which left Washington at 9 a.m. began moving again at 12:28 p.m. -- roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule.

Boardman said the incident highlighted the need to overhaul the entire power system along the Northeast Corridor -- the busiest in the country and said Amtrak recently filed an application with the Federal Railroad Administration to make such improvements.

The Wilmington station, which now bears Biden’s name, recently underwent a two-year $37 million renovation, paid for with a combination of funds from Amtrak, the government's stimulus program and the state of Delaware. Saturday’s event featured tours of the station, “food and refreshments” and even a performance by the Wilmington Children’s’ Chorus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar162011

“Amtrak Joe” Biden Gets His Own Train Station

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Biden, perhaps the nation's most famous Amtrak passenger, will soon have his own personal train station.

Amtrak announced last week that the newly renovated Wilmington, Delaware train station will now be known as the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Railroad Station.  There will be a dedication ceremony on Saturday that is open to the public.

The Wilmington Amtrak station, the 12th busiest in the country, just wrapped up a two-year $37.7 million renovation project, which included $20 million in federal stimulus money. Until last month, Biden was the Obama Administration's point person overseeing the disbursement and management of the stimulus funds.

Biden often boasts that he took over 7,000 round trips on Amtrak between Delaware and Washington, D.C. during his 36 years in the Senate.  Instead of moving full-time to the nation's capital, Biden would make the daily 1 hour, 15 minute commute in order to be home with his young children in Delaware.

Even after his "promotion" to the vice presidency, which comes with the flashy motorcades, Air Force planes and Marine helicopters, Biden continued to advocate for his beloved rail system. In 2009, the vice president announced that Amtrak would receive $1.3 billion in federal stimulus money to expand passenger rail capacity, calling the system "an absolute national treasure and necessity." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec172010

Trip From Hell: Passengers Stranded on Train Nearly 10 Hours

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Transportation Security Administration(WASHINGTON) -- The passengers on Amtrak Train 188 -- all 408 of them -- endured a travel nightmare after their train was stranded for nearly 10 hours on Thursday night, at times without light or heat.

Train 188 left Washington, D.C. around 7:10 p.m. heading north to Philadelphia, but an unexpected electrical outage halted the train outside Perryville, Md. around 9:00 p.m.

According to Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm, a Delmarva Power line fell onto the Amtrak power lines about 10 miles south of Wilmington, Del., ultimately shorting out the signal system, but not the power line which supplies the trains with electricity and heat.

Eight trains along the Northeast corridor were affected by the power shortage, amounting to 1,700 passengers stuck on trains for hours. Seven of the trains were held at stations. Train 188 was the lone exception.

WJLA reporter Steven Tschida was a passenger on Train 188, tweeting his experiences throughout the night, at one point calling it "the trip from HELL."

Stephanie Benanty, a 21-year-old passenger, said she was frustrated with the lack of information Amtrak officials had about the delay.

"It was very almost impossible to find a conductor and when we were trying to get in touch with them, they were walking by with their hands up saying, 'We know nothing,'' Benanty, a senior psychology major at George Washington University, told ABC News in a Skype interview. "It was clear they didn't know what was going on."

"Why will no one tell us anything? People are cold, hungry, and frightened. I hear yelling in other cars," Tschida tweeted.

Early Friday morning, the lights on Train 188 went out and passengers began to panic.  A group of passengers began to discuss plans about stepping off the train after they discovered on their GPS systems that a station was only a five-minute walk away. They said they spoke to conductors and were told they might be arrested if they walked along the tracks on their own.

Eventually, Amtrak police agreed to escort about a dozen passengers, including a mother with two small children, off the train. They walked five minutes to the closed Perryville station and waited about 30 minutes for taxis to take them to their final destinations.

Passengers remaining on the train reported little heat or light. But Amtrak insisted it was a minor discomfort.

"For the vast majority of the time, the light and heat were on in Train 188," Kulm said.

Train 188 eventually inched its way towards Philadelphia and arrived around 4:30 a.m.

Train passenger Rita Hudetz told ABC News via Twitter that conductors told passengers they would receive a refund because of the delay, but Friday Amtrak refused and instead offered her a voucher.

"We understand the frustration of our passengers went through, particularly on Train 188 and all the trains impacted. We apologize," Kulm said.

But for some, the apology might not be enough.

"In this day and age, again, being in transportation like that and not being told why we're stuck, is very, very concerning," Benanty said. "Amtrak lost me as a customer."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec012010

All Aboard, And Bring Your Guns

Photo Courtesy - Matt McClain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Starting December 15, Amtrak will allow passengers to travel with unloaded guns on trains. The new policy, a reversal of a ban in effect since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, is backed by conservatives and the National Rifle Association, and blasted by critics as costly and unsafe.

Starting in two weeks, train travelers will be able to check handguns, shotguns, rifles and starter pistols at stations that offer checked baggage service, including the stations in New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. The guns must be unloaded and in approved locked hard-sided containers and passengers must declare their firearms and notify Amtrak 24 hours in advance. In addition, reservations that include firearms must be made over the phone.

According to Amtrak spokesperson Steve Kulm, the company has spent approximately $2 million updating their security measures in anticipation of the policy change.

"The important thing here is this is not a carry-on," said Kulm. "We had to make modifications to 142 baggage cars to provide a secure, safe location for the firearms as well as make modifications of many stations to ensure their safety and security."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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