WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A high-speed Amtrak train carrying more than 50 people decoupled on Tuesday as it travelled northward in Maryland, causing no injuries but highlighting concerns about the U.S. passenger carrier’s safety record after a series of accidents.
Two railcars on a northbound Acela Express train en route to Boston from Washington separated near Havre de Grace, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Baltimore, at 6:40 a.m.
“If you’re not on Amtrak 2150 this morning, boy, you are really missing out,” passenger Andrew Exum said on Twitter. “Two cars separated, and sparks and smoke went everywhere.”
The train experienced “a mechanical issue” and two of the cars separated, the government-owned passenger service said in a statement without providing details. It did not say how many cars were being pulled.
The cause was under investigation, and other Acela trains were being inspected to prevent a similar incident, Amtrak said.
About 52 passengers were aboard the train at the time of the decoupling, and they were transferred to another train, Amtrak said. The carrier did not say how fast the Acela was travelling, but the service can reach speeds of 150 miles per hour (240 kph).
Amtrak’s safety performance is under scrutiny after a number of fatal incidents. In the most recent, an Amtrak train slammed into a parked freight train on a South Carolina siding on Sunday, killing two people and injuring more than 100.
Two recent Amtrak crashes involved vehicles driving around gates and being struck by trains. One of those incidents occurred last week when a chartered train carrying U.S. Republican lawmakers struck a garbage truck in Virginia, killing a person on the truck..
Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney