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Monday, April 08, 2013

Mudslide derails three cars of an Amtrak train. No one on board injured. Or, being Amtrak, perhaps it was just no one on board

UPDATE: Mudslide causes Amtrak derailment in Washington state; no injuries

Mud, trees and rocks hit an Amtrak passenger train traveling through Washington state Sunday morning, causing several cars to derail, according to a railway spokesman.

SEATTLE — Mud, trees and rocks hit an Amtrak passenger train traveling through Washington state Sunday morning, causing several cars to derail, according to a railway spokesman.
There were no injuries reported in the mudslide that knocked off the dining car and two coach cars, the last three railcars on the train, said Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the tracks.
The train was travelling south from Everett on the way to Seattle when the slide hit at about 8:30 a.m., Melonas said. The train, known as the Empire Builder, started Friday in Chicago and passed through Minnesota.
None of the 86 passengers or 11 crew members on board were injured, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari confirmed.
The derailed cars were disconnected, and the passengers were taken to Mukilteo, Wash., where they were transferred to a bus bound for Seattle, according to BNSF and Amtrak.
The cause of the slide is under investigation by Amtrak and BNSF officials.
It was not immediately clear how long Amtrak passenger service would be affected, Magliari said.
Washington state has been plagued by mudslides this winter and spring, repeatedly closing tracks that carry Amtrak trains, plus freight and commuter lines.
The tracks where the Empire Builder was damaged were closed as recently as March 21 because of mudslides.
A freight train derailed on the same stretch of tracks in October.
“This has been one of the most problematic years we've faced, historically,” Melonas said. “It's due to day after day after day of successive rainfall.”
BNSF is working on solutions to stop mudslides in the area, Melonas said.
Sunday's slide fell about 100 feet down a slope and covered the tracks in debris about 30 feet long and 15 feet deep.
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