Amtrak derailment blamed on sliding rocks

Amtrak derailment blamed on sliding rocks
© Brian Bell @BrianABell1980

The derailment of a Washington, D.C.-bound Amtrak train on Monday in Vermont was likely caused by a rockslide, according to officials with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). 

The train, number 55 on Amtrak's "Vermonter" route, derailed in Roxbury, Vt. during its trip from St. Albans, Vt., to Washington, D.C.'s Union Station on Monday. 

The FRA has listed a rockslide as the preliminary cause of the crash, which injured seven passengers and crew members who were on the train. 

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The agency has promised to "conduct a full investigation to confirm the official cause of the accident" after announcing it was sending personnel to the scene of the crash on Monday afternoon. 

Vermont officials said Tuesday that all the passengers who were injured have been treated successfully. 

"Very pleased to announce that all 7 of those injured in yesterday's train derailment have been released from the hospital #vt," Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tweeted. 

The crash is the latest in a string of high-profile accidents this year, including a derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight passengers, that have raised questions about U.S. rail safety amid a debate in Congress about an end-of-year mandate for automating most of the nation's trains.   

Lawmakers who support the automated Positive Train Control deadline have promised to look closely at the results of the investigation into the Vermont crash. 

"[Monday’s] derailment, which left a horrifying zigzag of steel sliding off the tracks, raises anew important, vital questions about rail safety and maintenance," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement.

"It is critical that we learn whether this accident was avoidable, so that we can ensure that similar tragedies do not happen in the future," Blumenthal continued. "I call on the Federal Railroad Administration and National Transportation Safety Board to move swiftly to investigate this derailment. My thoughts and prayers go out to those injured today, as do my hopes for their speedy recovery.”