HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two cars separated from a high-speed Acela Express train in Maryland Tuesday morning, Amtrak officials said.

The train experienced a “mechanical issue” when two cars separated at about 6:40 a.m. near Havre de Grace, which is northeast of Baltimore, said Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams.

No injuries were reported.

More than 50 passengers were traveling on Acela Express train 2150 from Washington, D.C. to Boston. Abrams said the passengers were transferred to another train.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the passengers arrived at Penn Station almost two hours late.

CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave reported a source with access to Amtrak’s internal train tracking system showed that shortly before the separation, the train was traveling 124.2 miles per hour.

The speed was measured as the train passed a signal box, the source said. The actual speed of the train as recorded by the data recorder at the moment of the separation may be slightly different.

The Acela line is high-speed, up to 160 mph.

A picture showed the uncoupling happened at a vestibule where passengers can move between cars.

“If someone would have been actually crossing from one car to another, potentially they could have fallen through that separation,” said safety expert Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Amtrak is investigating the cause of the separation and is inspecting other trains.

Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the agency is monitoring the situation.

The incident occurred days after a fatal Amtrak crash in South Carolina.

On Sunday, engineer Michael Kempf and conductor Michael Cella were killed when an Amtrak train was diverted off its main track onto a side track – and crashed into a CSX freight train that was sitting parked there.

It was the fourth fatal Amtrak crash since the beginning of December.

In Crozet, Virginia last week, a chartered Amtrak train carrying members of Congress to a Republican retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck. A passenger in the truck was killed.

On Jan. 14 in Whitakers, North Carolina, local pastor the Rev. Eugene Lyons and his wife, Dorothy, were killed in a sport-utility vehicle when an Amtrak train rammed into it, CBS affiliate WNCN-TV reported. They also reportedly drove around the lowered crossing arm.

On Dec. 18, an Amtrak train ran off the rails along a curve during its inaugural run on a route south of Tacoma, Washington, killing three people – passengers Jim Hamre, Zack Willhoite, and Benjamin Gran – and injuring dozens.

Meanwhile, two local commuter rail lines – the Metro-North Railroad and NJ TRANSIT – have also been plagued by safety concerns.

On Tuesday, the NTSB reported on the 2016 crash that killed a woman at the Hoboken Terminal. It blamed NJ TRANSIT for failing to diagnose sleep apnea in engineer Thomas Gallagher, or to install special controls to prevent accidents inside the terminals.

Attorney Thomas Kline represents the family of the woman who died in the September 2016 crash, Fabiola de Kroon.

“There needs to be, first and foremost, safety reestablished on our rails, and that a combination of human and systemic problems can lead to fatalities,” Kline said.

Riders are paying attention, but reacting in their own way.

“I feel very safe,” one man said. “I know that there are accidents that occur once in a while.”

“I think it’s pretty terrifying; shows the frail state of our transportation system,” another said, “and I’m not real comfortable taking the train.”

Political leaders claim they’re getting the message – New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is basically cleaning house at NJ TRANSIT, having hired a new executive director. On Tuesday, the head of railroad operations announced his departure.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Leave a Reply