(Mohawk, New York — June 27, 2013)
Two railroad employees, an engineer and conductor, were taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries they incurred in the sideswipe collision of two CSX trains on a heavily-travelled freight and passenger train route between New York City and Chicago at about 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning near the small Montgomery County, NY community of Mohawk.
The collision, which may have been caused by a defective track switch which directs trains from one track to another, occurred on double main line tracks that parallel New York State Highway 5, and resulted in the derailment of 30 freight cars, an “in place” evacuation and cessation of Amtrak passenger train service that accommodates a daily average of 54 trains, including three pair of Amtrak trains (The Lakeshore Limited, The Maple Leaf and Empire State service), trains that carry hundreds of passengers at top allowable speeds of 75 mph through the east-west corridor daily.
All residents within 1,000 feet of the derailment site, where some rail cars and debris wound up blocking NY HWY 5, were told to remain in their homes as hazardous material crews determined the degree of danger posed by several tank cars, one of which was known to be leaking, in the two trains’ consists.
A 12-mile stretch of Highway 5 was closed to traffic as Amtrak officials scrambled to secure busses to bridge stranded passengers around the derailment area and get them to their destinations. Although CSX spokespersons were unavailable, public agency officials, including Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato and Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Adam Schwabrow, were estimating it would take several days for CSX crews to clear the derailed cars, rebuild the tracks and allow resumption of normalcy for travelers and residents affected by the train wreck.
Five local and area law enforcement and emergency response agencies were on hand at the site of Thursday’s accident.