A 30-foot-wide mudslide derailed an Amtrak train traveling through Washington from Chicago on Sunday.
According to the Associated Press, the derailment didn’t result in any injuries to the 86 passengers or 11 crew members on board at the time, but it did force passengers to transfer to buses for the last part of their journey. Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company, which owns the tracks, said that the slide derailed the train’s last three cars, including the dining car and coach cars.
The train, named the Empire Builder, had been en route to Seattle from Chicago when it went off the tracks at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, the AP reported. Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari said that the company had not yet ascertained how long the derailment would affect passenger service, but confirmed that Amtrak and BNSF officials were investigating the cause of the mudslide.
Amtrak said that they disconnected the last three cars and took passengers to Mukilteo, where they boarded buses bound for Seattle, Edmonds and Redmond. Passengers had to wait for more than four hours until buses arrived. Alicia Munds of Silverdale, Wash., said that the mudslide jolted her out of her sleep and prompted her to hug her 7-year-old daughter. “It was like being thrown around like a rag doll,” she told the Seattle Times.
The mudslide rolled down a slope of approximately 100 feet, leaving about 30 feet of debris on the tracks including dirt, rocks and trees, NBC Chicago reported. BNSF crews are still reportedly working to remove the rubble and expect service to recommence on Tuesday.
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Melonas added that mudslides have been a frequent source of trouble in Washington this winter and spring, forcing BNSF to close lines used by Amtrak freight and commuter trains.
"This has been one of the most problematic years we've faced, historically," Melonas said. "It's due to day after day after day of successive rainfall."
Melonas added that the company was working on developing methods to stop mudslides in the area.