SANGAMON COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — A train derailed south of Springfield Friday morning. The accident shut down southbound tracks for hours, but, officials said, the accident could have been much worse.
Officials stated the accident happened around 8 AM. The train was mostly empty and there were no flammable substances or hazardous chemicals being transported.
Six train cars fell on their side in the 700 block of Lawndale Road. Springfield Fire Chief Brandon Blough said the conductor of the train was not hurt and cooperated with crews while they secured the scene. There were no injuries reported.
Shortly after the freight train derailed, an Amtrak heading northbound passed on the opposite tracks. Amtrak was alerted about the accident and slowed the train down considerably. The train hit some of the debris from the derailment, but authorities said the reduced speed kept it from careening off the tracks.
The Amtrak train stopped right next to the derailed train for about 90 minutes. There were 61 passengers on board the Amtrak train, but there were no injuries.
“We got here on the scene and we had several cars are on their sides, luckily that there was no type of spills or anything hazmat wise that we had to deal with,” Blough said. “And then right afterwards, some of the debris that happened, that occurred, got over onto the Amtrak tracks. And they had they hit some of that and stopped it, luckily. They had 61 passengers on board. We were really lucky that we didn’t have a bigger disaster on our hands.”
The first part of the train derailed on a straight piece of track near a warehouse. The train continued down the track after the first cars derailed and then several more cars fell right after the track turned to go west.
Springfield Collisions Inc. has a location right on that bend. An employee was outside when he heard the train start to come off the tracks.
“I just walked outside of the building, I heard loud noises,” Curt Snow with Springfield Collisions Inc. said. “And I looked over towards the tracks, and I saw the train go by, and I can see two of the cars off of the tracks. And then all the other ones are as far behind as you can see, the four are laying on their sides and just throwing rocks. And I ran up into the shop to let the guys know here and we came outside and the train had stopped and I called the police to let them know that the train had flipped.”
Blough said the investigation into what caused the accident is still ongoing. Officials stated the track was damaged and part of it was missing, but they think it happened during the derailment.
“They didn’t know at this point, there is some section of track that is missing currently that I think was damaged during the derailment,” Blough said. “But we don’t know what caused it. Obviously, we know that the debris caused the Amtrak portion. But we’re just really happy that you know, there wasn’t anybody hurt as far as we know, we didn’t need EMS on scene or anything like that. We didn’t have to treat anybody. So that part we’re really lucky on”