Amtrak ridership is at record numbers, even as Republicans call for an end to taxpayer support. REUTERS

A dump truck trying to beat a passenger train across a railway crossing collided with the locomotive on Monday and the truck driver was killed, according to an Amtrak spokesman.

On weekdays, the Downeaster train makes five round-trip journeys between Portland and Boston with seven stops in between. The crash on Monday happened about 40 miles south of its final destination in the town of North Berwick around 11 a.m. local time. The train was carrying 112 passengers.

The dump truck's driver allegedly had tried to rush across the tracks ahead of the oncoming train, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole. Police say safety lights were flashing and the gates were down when the tractor-trailer crossed into the path of the Amtrak train.

North Berwick Police Chief Stephen Peasley says one witness reports that trucker slammed on the brakes and skidded into the intersection before colliding with the train.

A fire erupted in the lead engine after the crash and emergency vehicles, including a dozen ambulances, rushed to the scene.

Four passengers were treated for minor injuries, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole.

The incident is the second accident involving a truck hitting an Amtrak train in the last month. Six people were fatally wounded when a tractor-trailer rig sped through railroad gates and into an Amtrak train in Nevada on June 24.