Amtrak suffered yet another terrifying setback when a high-speed Acela train broke apart as it raced north toward Penn Station at 125 mph.
This is the third wreck in just one week and the fourth in two months. Several cars of an Acela Express heading from Washington, DC, to New York decoupled and were left held together only by their air hoses.
According to reports sparks flew from dragging cables and the train jerked wildly, but none of the 52 terrified passengers aboard were injured.
“Someone could have been walking through the train when that happened and fell to their death,” one source said.
An Amtrak worker took a photo that shows the connector between two coupled trains broken and separated, with a six-foot gap between them.
“There was a lot of sparking and smoking at the head of the train and a lot of bouncing around,” a source said.
About 50 miles north of Baltimore, the train separated. While one passenger was playing on his phone, he felt his car shake suddenly and then saw sparks outside his window.
“It felt almost like we were dragging something,” said Andrew Exum, 39, a journalist who lives in the Washington area and works in New York.
“I looked out the window and saw a shower of sparks coming out the side of the train,” Exum said. “Pretty quickly, the train came to a halt and the Amtrak folks rushed forward. I could tell by their faces that this was serious and that we weren’t going anywhere.”
The crew tried to fix the situation themselves and then told passengers to evacuate everyone from first class and the quiet car, which is where Exum was.
“There were a lot of fumes and a little bit of smoke,” he said. “So we moved to the next car and just kind of waited. They powered down the train so we were literally in the dark for 30 minutes or so, maybe a little bit longer.”
An Amtrak train traveling through South Carolina from New York City slammed into the back of a freight train, killing two workers.
An Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress slammed into a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one person in the truck.
The worst incident happened in December, when an Amtrak train on an inaugural run in Washington state derailed on a turn, killing three people and injuring scores.
Many Amtrak regulars say they are now terrified to ride the trains.
“Seriously, how did riding the train get to be so hazardous?” mused Steve Rosen, 45, who had just arrived in Penn Station on an Amtrak train from Philadelphia.
“Every time I ride Amtrak now, I utter a silent prayer that this train or this car or this conductor or this track won’t be one of the defective ones that end my life.”
The federal government needs to fork over the money to pay for Amtrak to repair its aging infrastructure according to critics.
“If we just keep kicking the can down the road, we will have one tragedy after another,” said personal attorney Michael Barasch, who has represented victims in several Amtrak crashes, including the South Carolina incident.
A rescue train eventually arrived and took the passengers to Philadelphia, where they continued on to New York City.
Amtrak officials said they were still probing the incident.
“We are currently investigating the cause of the car separation, inspecting every Acela trainset, and taking any necessary actions to prevent a reoccurrence,” said Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams.
Amtrak’s disastrous track record
May 12, 2015 — A distracted engineer speeds into a turn in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia, killing eight and injuring more than 200.
April 3, 2016 — A train strikes a backhoe parked on the tracks in Chester, Pa., and derails, killing two and injuring 41.
Dec. 18, 2017 — A train making the inaugural run of a high-speed service from Seattle to Portland hurtles into a turn on an overpass, causing it to derail and crash onto the highway below. Three are killed and dozens injured.
Jan. 31, 2018 — A train carrying several members of Congress crashes into a garbage truck in Charlottesville, Va., killing a passenger in the truck.
Feb. 4, 2018 — An engineer following orders from a dispatcher puts his train on the wrong track in Cayce, SC, where it crashes into a freight train, killing two crewmen on the passenger locomotive.
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