On Saturday, an Amtrak train detailed in rural Montana, killing three and injuring 50. What caused the Amtrak train to derail?
What Caused Amtrak Train To Derail?
At approximately 4:00pm local time on Saturday a westbound Empire Builder Amtrak train traveling from Chicago to Seattle derailed near Joplin, Montana, a town of about 200. 141 passengers and 16 crewmembers were onboard. The train included 10 passenger carriages and two locomotives.
Three passengers were killed and 50 were injured. Among those 50, seven were taken to hospital where five remain in serious condition and two in an intensive care unit.
Federal investigators are currently onsite to assess the scene of the crash. While it is not yet clear what caused the Amtrak train to derail, the accident occurred near a switch in the track where two tracks narrowed into one.
The two locomotives, located in the front the train, and the first two passenger cars did not derail: the remaining eight passenger carriages derailed.
Technology in place largely prevents human error in the operation of Amtrak trains, so experts speculate the issue with either the tracks or a problem with the train itself.
The derailment took place on track owned by BNSF Railway, which said the track was last inspected on Thursday and found to be without defect.
A team of 14 investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now onsite combing through the damage in an effort to ascertain the cause of the derailment.
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn refused to comment on the cause of the accident:
We share the sense of urgency to understand why the accident happened; however, until the investigation is complete, we will not comment further on the accident itself. The NTSB will identify the cause or causes of this accident, and Amtrak commits to taking appropriate actions to prevent a similar accident in the future.
Flynn also expressed sorrow for those who had died or were injured, vowing to provide assistance where possible.
My wife and I took the Empire Builder to Montana a few years back (though traveling in the opposite direction). It was a great experience overall and I’m shocked this occurred. Hopefully the investigation will quickly ascertain the root cause of the accident and corrective action can be taken in the meantime. In the meantime, I send my prayers to those those who are injured or the families of those who have lost loved ones.