Amtrak Vermonter derailment injures 7 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Amtrak Vermonter derailment injures 7

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Courtesy: Brian Bell Courtesy: Brian Bell

The Amtrak Vermonter derailed Monday morning in Northfield, plunging a train engine and passenger car into a brook, and leaving all 102 people on board the five-car train shaken. Despite the mess on the tracks, no one was killed.

The Monday morning train crash will now cause headaches for travelers Tuesday.

One person remains in the hospital after the crash. Amtrak says it is a member of the train's crew whose injuries are described as non-life threatening.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation will close Route 12A in Northfield near Bull Run Road Tuesday morning. Then, they'll bring in heavy equipment like cranes needed to remove five damaged rail cars and a locomotive from the scene.

Loaded with 98 passengers and four crew, Amtrak's Vermonter train made an unscheduled stop Monday, derailing in Northfield.
The crash sent seven people to the hospital, one by helicopter.

"My heart goes out to the passengers and the crew who went through this traumatic experience, and we're very lucky there was no loss of life," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, at an afternoon news conference at Norwich University.

Investigators say the train smashed into six pieces of ledge, which fell onto the tracks sometime after a freight train traveled the same stretch late Sunday night. The engine and a passenger car landed in a creek bed, three more cars stayed upright after leaving the tracks.

The train, known as the Vermonter, travels at nearly 60 mph through the area typically; it's unclear if the engineer hit the brakes before hitting the fallen ledge around 10:30 a.m.

"Next thing we knew, we kind of swerved to the left, and then swerved to the right and we were all going, 'uh oh,'" said Rita Kimble, a passenger from California.

The remote location forced responders to pull out the injured on ATV. Staffers at Northfield Country Club provided direction.

"We just put them all on golf carts and led them up to the tracks to the opening for the best place to get in," said the club's Ryan McDonald.

The club also served as a landing pad for a medical airlift. Those who could walk away from the wreckage took buses to a temporary shelter at Norwich University before finishing their trip on charter busses.

The governor says the accident should not dissuade the public from getting on a train once the line reopens.

"When we have a transportation crash we don't say let's stop driving cars, we say how do we make them safer," Shumlin said.

And the governor says that's just what Vermont will do after the Vermonter's unprecedented crash.

Repairs on the line could take days, so Amtrak is modifying its Vermonter route. Train service will run from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Washington, D.C. -- and back -- with alternate transportation provided to and from Vermont.

The derailment led public safety officials to activate the State Emergency Operations Center in Waterbury to coordinate the response. That Included the state hazmat team, which responded to a diesel spill in the brook called Bull Run. State and local search and rescue teams swept the train to make sure all passengers were accounted for. Homeland Security was also called to assist in the investigation and response, and state police handled traffic control in the area.

As a result of this incident, Amtrak has made the following service modifications for Tuesday, Oct. 6, and Wednesday, Oct. 7:

Train 55 (St. Albans, Vt. - Washington, D.C.) will originate in Springfield, Massachusetts, for service to Washington, D.C., with alternate transportation provided for stops north of Springfield, Mass.

Train 56 (Washington, D.C. - St. Albans, Vt.) will terminate in Springfield, Massachusetts, with alternate transportation for stops north of Springfield.

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