An Amtrak train bound for Washington from Chicago rear-ended a CSX freight train loaded with new cars yesterday as the two pulled into the train yard in Cumberland, Md., injuring 37 Amtrak passengers, two seriously, Allegany County officials said.
The crash occurred about 11:50 a.m., and although both trains were traveling at low speeds, the force of the collision derailed the Amtrak train's lead locomotive and two coaches, said Debbi Hare, an Amtrak spokeswoman.
The CSX train, which was stopping in Cumberland before continuing to Philadelphia, remained on the tracks, according to CSX spokeswoman Cathy Burns. All cars in both trains remained upright, officials said.
Thirty-seven injured passengers were taken by ambulance to Memorial and Sacred Heart hospitals, both in Cumberland, where most were treated for minor cuts and bruises, said Barry Ronan, a spokesman for both hospitals.
One person was admitted to Memorial Hospital for serious back injuries; another was admitted for undisclosed reasons. Two other passengers were expected to be admitted to Memorial, based on the results of pending X-ray examinations, Ronan said. Neither the CSX conductor nor engineer was injured.
The Amtrak train was carrying 141 people, including crew members, and a police spokesman said those who were not injured were taken by bus to a hotel. They were to be taken by bus to Washington later.
Two federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were on their way to Cumberland late yesterday to try to determine the cause of the crash.
The Washington-bound train, the Capitol Limited, left Chicago at 8 p.m. Sunday and stopped briefly in Pittsburgh before going to Cumberland. The six-coach train was less than two miles south of the town's Amtrak station when it struck the 83-car CSX train, which had just arrived from Willard, Ohio, officials said.
Officials for Amtrak and CSX said that they did not know how fast either train was traveling, but that investigators from Amtrak, CSX and the National Transportation Safety Board would review event recorders from the trains to determine the exact speed and cause of the collision.
"This is a rare event," Burns said. "Obviously, it's something we want to get to the bottom of."
CAPTION: The front of the Amtrak engine is crumpled after slamming into the rear of a CSX freight train in Cumberland, Md.