Federal safety officials on Tuesday said an agricultural truck had earlier struck the railroad tracks just 25 feet (7.6 meters) from where an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Kansas this week, injuring some three dozen people.
The track shifted about a foot (30 centimeters) following the impact, National Transportation Safety Board Member Earl Weener told reporters at a news conference. He said they would not confirm the cause of the crash at this time.
Weener said the train was traveling at the posted speed limit of 60 mph (97 kph) and the train’s engineer promptly applied the emergency brakes. Weener said on Monday that the engineer’s quick action likely kept the accident from being worse.
The two-axle feed truck involved in the incident is owned by Cimarron Crossing Feeders LLC, who Weener said was cooperating with the investigation. A person answering the phone for Cimarron Crossing declined to comment to Reuters.
Seven coaches from Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Train 4, bound from Los Angeles to Chicago, derailed about 125 miles (200 km) west of Wichita shortly after midnight on Monday, Amtrak said in a statement. There were 131 passengers and 14 crew aboard. Thirty-two passengers were taken to area hospitals, Amtrak said.
Amtrak said the train had two locomotives and nine cars, and the accident occurred on track owned by BNSF Railway Co, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
BNSF officials planned to have the railroad reopened to passenger and freight service later on Tuesday, Weener said.
In one of Amtrak’s deadliest recent accidents, eight people were killed and 43 hurt last May when a New York-bound train derailed in Philadelphia. The train entered a curve at more than twice the recommended speed, investigators found.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio)