Officials confirmed at least five people were killed and another 65 injured after an Amtrak train derailed and crashed in the Philadelphia area Tuesday evening. The train, which was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members, was traveling from Washington to New York when all seven cars derailed in the Port Richmond neighborhood. Search efforts continued throughout the night as there were still people unaccounted for as of early Wednesday morning, authorities said. While trains have become safer in recent years due to increased security and safety measures, a look at the history of Amtrak crashes shows how these tragic accidents can still happen. (Update: Eight passengers have now been confirmed dead.)
Amtrak released a statement expressing its condolences to the passengers onboard Train 188 and their families. The company said it has established a Family Assistance Center to work closely with family and friends of those who were on the train at the time of the crash. Those seeking information about passengers are being directed to the Amtrak Incident Hotline at 800-523-9101.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of life from Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that derailed north of Philadelphia Tuesday evening. We ask the news media to be respectful of our customers, our employees, and their families.
The total number of total train accidents and incidents for Amtrak and other commuter trains has steadily increased by more than 30 percent in the last decade, according to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis. In 2014, there were 4,428 accidents reported. Last year also had the highest number of fatalities in 10 years with 226. The number of accidents in 2014 specifically caused by derailments was 54.
A derailment doesn't necessarily mean a serious and fatal crash will follow. In 2013, an Amtrak Crescent train was heading to New York when it derailed in South Carolina. There were 218 people on board at the time, and no serious injuries were reported.
But accidents, whether derailments or collisions, have proven to be deadly. In 1987, an Amtrak train with around 500 people on board was en route from Washington to Boston when it collided into a Conrail locomotive. Sixteen people were killed and was, at the time, Amtrak's worst accident in history. A 1996 collision between an Amtrak passenger train and a commuter train killed 11 people and left another 26 injured.
Amtrak's deadliest accident to date is the Big Bayou Canot train wreck, which claimed 47 lives and left 103 people injured. On Sept. 22, 1993, a tugboat smashed into a rail bridge in Mobile, Alabama, causing the track to dislodge and collapse. Shortly after, Amtrak's Sunset Limited train, which was traveling from Los Angeles to Miami, crossed the bridge and derailed.
With each major crash, there has been an increase in protocols put into effect to better ensure passengers' safety and well-being. Officials will continue to investigate into what caused Tuesday's tragic train crash and will likely assess whether changes need to be made for future rides. Modified service is set to begin Wednesday between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston, according to Amtrak. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia Wednesday.