(Oakland, California – October 12, 2011)
Two Amtrak passenger trains collided head-on at about 15-20 mph at the Jack London Square station in Oakland, CA Wednesday night. It was around 10:00 P.M. as Amtrak’s “Coast Starlight” was loading passengers when the incoming “San Joaquin” made contact.
The two locomotives partially derailed, and 18 passengers and crew were injured. At least seven passengers were transported to hospitals, the most serious a child with a broken arm, for treatment, while others were treated on site.
Although Amtrak officials refused to comment, an Oakland fire official reported that he had learned from Amtrak sources at the scene that the “San Joaquin”, which was arriving from Bakersfield, CA with eight passengers on board, ran a red signal intended to keep the two trains apart.
“According to the Amtrak representative, the train traveling should never have continued past the red signal,” Oakland Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Emon Usher said.
The “Coast Starlight” had a manifest of 137 passengers bound for Seattle, WA, and had not departed the station at the time of the collision. What Amtrak referred to as a “fender bender” was described by passengers on board as severe enough to jolt people from their seats and to the floor.
“It was an awful Jolt,” said Alton Smith, a passenger from Oklahoma.
Amtrak operates through Oakland via the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad.