Amtrak train derails in Michigan after hitting truck

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 01, 2012 6:03 PM
Amtrak train derails in Michigan after hitting truck

(Reuters) - An Amtrak train carrying 68 passengers and five crew members struck a semitrailer truck Wednesday morning outside of Jackson, Michigan, partly derailing and sending 10 people to a local hospital, Amtrak and a local official said.

Two of the people taken to the hospital were Amtrak crew members and none of the injuries appeared life threatening, said Mike Jester, director of public safety for Blackman-Leoni Township, where the derailment occurred.

The train had departed from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was westbound six or seven miles from Jackson when it hit a semitrailer truck that was stuck on the tracks, Jester said.

"The track was severely damaged," Jester said. "They are going to be removing the cars shortly and then they will have to repair the tracks. The line between Detroit and Chicago is going to be down for some time before they get this fixed."

The crash was the latest of several involving Amtrak trains in the past year with vehicles that were stuck or overhanging tracks or whose drivers had tried to beat trains at crossings.

In June, a truck barreled through crossing gates in Nevada and collided with an Amtrak train, killing the driver of the vehicle and five other people.

In July, a dump truck driver was killed in Maine when he struck an Amtrak train. Then, in August, an Amtrak train struck a crane that was overhanging the tracks in Nebraska, sending 11 people to area hospitals.

In the collision on Wednesday morning in Michigan, the engine of the train came to rest on its side and the first two cars lost contact with the rails, Amtrak said. The train had two engines and six rail cars in all.

The tracks and the Portage Road crossing where the crash happened are owned and maintained by Norfolk Southern Railway, Amtrak said. The crossing has warning lights, gates and bells.

Amtrak had initially reported 71 passengers, but provided an updated figure of 68.

Amtrak said that it would provide alternate transportation between Ann Arbor and Jackson on the Wolverine line and passengers would receive refunds or could rebook.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Greg McCune)