Amtrak Train Derails After Striking Backhoe in Chester [UPDATED]
This is a developing story.
UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters in New York that an Amtrak backhoe operator and a supervisor were the two people killed by an early morning train crash in Chester, according to the Associated Press.
Schumer said he spoke with Amtrak board chairman Anthony Coscia.
SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said Amtrak had notified SEPTA that they were going to have a work crew out in Chester on Sunday morning.
“It’s standard for them to let us know, because we run the Wilmington-Newark line on those same tracks,” he said.
Steve Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media who mounted unsuccessful bids to become the Republican presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, was on Train 89.
“I’m fine. Prayers to families of those killed and injured,” Forbes tweeted earlier today.
Forbes had been scheduled to appear on C-SPAN. He ended up calling in to the station and describing the tense moments after the crash.
“Fortunately we there was no panic,” he said. “When officials came back they were relieved, because in a couple cars there was panic…It was just waiting and waiting and waiting.”
EARLIER: Officials shared little new information during a late-morning news conference about Sunday’s Amtrak train crash in Chester, Delaware County.
Chester fire commissioner Travis Thomas confirmed that two people were killed when Train 89 struck a backhoe on the tracks about 8 a.m.
Thomas said 35 passengers — out of 341 total — were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries at area hospitals. The commissioner said the two deceased individuals were not passengers on the train, but did not confirm reports that both were Amtrak employees.
Thomas said passengers from Train 89 were being transported to Philadelphia to meet relatives and pick up their luggage.
“We have most of the situation under control,” he said.
Stephen Gardner, an Amtrak executive vice president, didn’t shed any additional light on the crash. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board are headed to the crash site to begin investigating the incident.
An NTSB spokesman said the agency will likely hold a press conference later today to share additional information.
Gardner said Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Wilmington is currently suspended, but service between New York and Harrisburg is operational.
Linton Holmes, a North Carolina resident who was a passenger on the train, described the crash to 6-ABC: “It was an explosion. We got off track and then there was like a big explosion. Then there was a fire and windows burst out. Some people were cut up, but it was just minor injuries.”
ORIGINAL: Not quite a year since an Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia’s River Wards made world headlines and focused national attention on issues of rail safety, another deadly Amtrak train derailment has occurred this morning in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Unlike the 2015 derailment, the cause of this crash seems immediately clear: According to an official statement from Amtrak, Train 89 from New York City to Savannah, Georgia, struck a backhoe on the tracks, derailing the lead engine. According to Amtrak, there were 341 passengers on the train, and an unspecified number are being treated for injuries. News outlets are reporting two confirmed fatalities, though their identities, and whether they were passengers, remain unknown.
However, there is no official word at this point about why the backhoe was on the tracks. The Federal Railroad Administration has arrived on the scene to investigate.
Wheel from crane that was apparently hit by Amtrak train in Chester. @PhilHeron pic.twitter.com/gYIpT3sTf5
— Pete Bannan (@PeteBannan) April 3, 2016
A photo taken by a passenger shows damage to the train’s second car:
@Amtrak Palmetto #89 crash this morning. According to train crew there was one crew fatality.I saw fire from 2nd car pic.twitter.com/j79XPghRsg
— Glenn R Hills Jr (@GlennHills) April 3, 2016
A passenger on the train spoke with Fox News earlier this morning about what went down:
Stephanie Burroughs, who in the 2nd car of the Amtrak train that crashed outside of Philly, shares what happened.https://t.co/b509aMasgy
— FOX&friends Weekend (@ffweekend) April 3, 2016
Amtrak is directing people with questions about family or friends on the train to call their emergency hotline at 800-532-9101 and to follow @Amtrak on Twitter for updates.
Injured passengers were reportedly being treated at Ninth and Langley in Trainer, Pa., while other passengers were being directed to nearby Trainer United Methodist Church.
Amtrak has suspended all service between New York and Philadelphia.
All Amtrak service is suspended between New York City and Philadelphia at this time. Updates available at https://t.co/0oilXAZsFc.
— Amtrak (@Amtrak) April 3, 2016
SEPTA has suspended service on its Wilmington/Newark line:
Newark: Service is suspended until further notice. Alternate service suggestions are available online.
— SEPTA (@SEPTA_WIL) April 3, 2016
Amtrak trains originating in Washington D.C. or south will reportedly be experiencing delays.
@DarPop Service was not suspended NYC-BOS. if your train originates in WAS or south of WAS, it will be delayed. Tr 162 originatInated in WAS
— Amtrak (@Amtrak) April 3, 2016