An Amtrak passenger said he heard a “really heavy thud” as the train derailed over an embankment in Northfield, Vermont, this morning, sending seven people to the hospital.
“The car was shaking from side to side and I could tell something was going off the tracks,” Ian Turpin, 24, from Brooklyn, New York, told ABC News.
Then the train screeched to a halt, he said.
Train 55 — the Vermonter — was traveling from St. Albans, Vermont, to Washington, D.C., when it derailed after striking a rock slide on the tracks, Amtrak said.
Seven people were hospitalized, officials said. The train had 98 passengers and 4 crew members on board.
Amtrak said there were no immediate reports of any life-threatening injuries.
A total of five passenger cars and the engine derailed, officials said. The accident was described as a ledge slide involving five or six big chunks of rock.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said the rail is safe, calling the Vermonter “a great train line.” Officials said there was no reason to believe there was any negligence; the track was recently rebuilt and state of the art.
The engineer has not yet been interviewed, officials said.
Investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration were sent to the scene.
Turpin said the uninjured passengers were bused to a nearby university.
The track is owned and maintained by the New England Central Railroad, Amtrak said. Michael Williams, spokesman for the New England Central Railroad and its parent company Genesee & Wyoming Inc., told ABC News that “as with all such incidents, there will be a full investigation to determine any learnings that could help prevent future incidents.”
This accident comes just five months after an Amtrak train derailed near Philadelphia, killing eight people.