An Amtrak Train Just Derailed Near Philadelphia - REPORT
On Sunday morning, an Amtrak train reportedly derailed near Philadelphia, with nearly 350 people on board. The train was headed from New York City to Savannah, Georgia, when it collided with a backhoe on the tracks just south of Philadelphia, according to a statement from Amtrak. Following the accident, Amtrak service was shut down between NYC and the city of brotherly love, one of the busiest stretches of railroad for Amtrak.
The incident involved Amtrak's Palmetto 89 train, which left NYC on Sunday morning and was scheduled to arrive in Savannah just after 9 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday night. Following the derailment, the train's status was updated on the Amtrak website as unavailable "due to a service disruption." Amtrak reported the incident around 9 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday, saying that emergency responders were on the scene.
There were 341 passengers and seven crew members onboard the train. According to Amtrak's initial report, some passengers were being treated for injuries. It was unclear at the time of the first report how severe those injuries were or if any crew members had been injured. Although little information was readily available, Amtrak offered a unique phone number for loved ones of those onboard the train to call for information.
Sunday's incident may sound all too familiar to those who remember the last time an Amtrak train derailed near Philadelphia. Last May, a train headed for NYC derailed on the Northeast Corridor tracks near Philadelphia in an accident that killed eight people. That train headed into a treacherous curve with a dangerously high speed, and it has been presumed that human error led to the derailment.
The cause of Sunday's derailment seemed clear from Amtrak's initial report: A backhoe had been on the tracks as the train passed through Philadelphia. The ongoing investigation will likely try to determine why the backhoe was there in the first place. The investigation could take months — perhaps even years. The investigation into last year's derailment remains ongoing, as members of the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to announce an official determination of the cause sometime this spring.
Although much more rare nowadays than in decades past, train derailments are still more common than you might think. Following last year's incident, The Washington Post reported that Amtrak averaged about 31 derailments per year for the decade preceding the accident in Philadelphia. Still, fatalities are rare in most incidents. Last year's derailment was the worst Amtrak crash in 22 years, according to the Post.
In its 2015 fiscal year, more than 30 million people rode an Amtrak train, with an average of 84,600 passengers per day. Amtrak's New York City station at Penn Station is the busiest Amtrak station in the country, with more than 10 million passengers traveling through it. Sunday's derailment affected one of the most traveled portions of its railways.