ROXBURY, Vt. (WWLP) – An Amtrak Vermonter train went off the tracks in Roxbury, Vermont, Monday morning, injuring at least seven people in an incident that the state’s governor describes as a “freak of nature.”
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Peter Shumlin said that rocks fell off a ledge and onto the tracks, causing the derailment about 20 miles southwest of Montpelier at around 10:30 a.m. The train was carrying 98 passengers and four crew members.
One of the passengers on the train was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, while six others were taken to nearby Central Vermont Medical Center for head, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as lightheadedness. By 7:00 p.m., four of the passengers hospitalized were released from the hospital, and it was determined that one of the crew members suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to Amtrak.
One passenger said, “I saw the car in front of us kind of come up this way and that’s when it went down the ditch, and ours kind of ended up on its side.”
Five cars jumped the track, two toppled over, falling down into a brook. The cleanup could go on for days, affecting rail service in western Massachusetts.
According to Vermont Disaster program manager Dan Lavilette, “I’m not sure how long we’ll be here, but the Red Cross will be here for the duration. So however long that takes. My suspicion is it’ll be a few days at least.”
Amtrak Train 55 was traveling on the Vermonter line, which makes stops in Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield. For now, Amtrak is offering bus service to take people to their destinations, until the tracks are cleared.
Another passenger said, “I felt something and it was like ‘bump,’ and next thing we knew it was like, we kind of swerved to the left and then swerved to the right, and we were all going ‘uh-oh!’”
The Vermonter is currently out of service north of Springfield, Massachusetts. Crews need to remove the rocks, clean up spilled fuel, and rebuild the tracks. According to the Amtrak website, the Vermonter service will be modified on October 6th and 7th.
- Train 55 (St. Albans, Vt. to Washington, D.C.) will originate in Springfield, Mass., for service to Washington, D.C., with alternate transportation provided for stops north of Springfield, Mass.
- Train 56 (Washington, DC. to St. Albans, VT) will terminate in Springfield, Mass., with alternate transportation for stops north of Springfield, Mass.
The accident had originally been reported as being in Northfield, Vermont, but shortly before noontime, Amtrak clarified- saying that it took place in the adjoining town of Roxbury, which is about 170 Miles north of Springfield.
Officials with the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating the accident.