WASHINGTON—Two conductors who got out of their freight train to follow up an alert that there was a problem with its wheels were struck and killed by a passenger train near Washington’s Union Station June 27.
The CSX employees were responding Tuesday night after one of the detectors that are placed along the tracks about every 25 miles (40 kilometres) identified an abnormality, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said Wednesday at a news conference.
He could not say if the operator of the Amtrak train saw the CSX employees before hitting them but said that’s being investigated. He said there were “few definitive facts at this early stage.”
The freight train, which was travelling from Baltimore to Chicago, was about 9,000 to 9,500 feet (2,740 to 2,900 metres) long, he said.
The train consisted of two locomotives, 49 loaded rail cars and nine empty cars, CSX said. The train was carrying paper products, machine parts, clothing and grain.
The CSX employees were struck by an Amtrak train travelling from Boston and New York as it approached Washington’s Union Station. Amtrak says none of the train’s passengers or crew was injured in the accident.
CSX said in a statement that the names of the employees were being withheld for their families’ privacy.
Amtrak service was suspended between Washington and Philadelphia after the two employees were struck, but service resumed Wednesday morning, with delays. Riders travelling on two commuter train lines could expect major delays Wednesday and possible train cancellations, transit officials in Maryland said.
The area where the employees were struck has two tracks that belong to CSX and two that belong to Amtrak, Weener said. Investigators will be looking at communication between CSX and Amtrak.