On Saturday 25 September, Amtrak’s Empire Builder train 7/27, operating a service between Chicago and Seattle/Portland, Oregon, derailed at around 16:00 local time near Joplin, Montana.
The train, made up of two locomotives and 10 carriages, was carrying 141 passengers and a crew of 17.
Eight cars derailed in the incident, with at least one falling onto its side. Three people died, 50 were injured but only five of those were still in hospital 24 hours later, with none of their injuries described as ‘serious’.
The track at that point is owned by BNSF Railway (the former Burlington Northern and Santa Fe) but the cause of the accident has not yet been identified. The incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn stated: “We are in mourning today for the people who lost their lives due to the derailment of the Empire Builder train Saturday, near Joplin, Montana, on the BNSF Railway, as well as the many others who were injured. We have no words that can adequately express our sorrow for those who lost a loved one or who were hurt in this horrible event. They are in our thoughts and prayers.
“We are fully cooperating with the investigation, working closely with National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration, local law enforcement and response agencies. We share the sense of urgency to understand why the accident happened; however, until the investigation is complete, we will not comment further on the accident itself. The NTSB will identify the cause or causes of this accident, and Amtrak commits to taking appropriate actions to prevent a similar accident in the future.
“Amtrak’s immediate and sustained focus is on doing everything we can to help our passengers and crew, especially the families of those who were injured or died, at this painful and difficult time. Our Incident Response Team has been initiated. We have sent emergency personnel and Amtrak leadership to the scene to help support our passengers, our employees and their families with their needs.
“We want to extend our deep gratitude and sincere appreciation to the Joplin and greater Liberty County communities and other Montana counties and their selfless first responders, hospital staff and law enforcement for their immediate and ongoing help to support of all those aboard the Empire Builder for responding with such urgency, compassion and patience.”