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Amtrak Train Derails In Washington After Mudslide

Travelers Today       By    Karen Fredrickson

Updated: Apr 08, 2013 09:23 AM EDT

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An Amtrak train derailed in Washington State on Sunday after being hit by mud, trees and rocks, according to a railway spokesman who spoke to ABC.

No injuries were reported after the mudslide slid 100-feet down a 200-foot cliff, knocking three train cars off the tracks, including the dining car and two coach cars, the last three cars on the train, said Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), the company that owns the tracks.

The train, known as the Empire Builder, was traveling south from Everett to Seattle when it was hit by a mudslide at approximately 8:30 a.m. It was carrying 86 passengers and 11 crew members. Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman, confirmed that there were no injuries.

The derailed cars became disconnected from the train, and passengers were taken to Mukilteo, Washington, where they were transferred to a bus bound for Seattle.

The cause of the mudslide is currently unknown and is being investigated by both Amtrak and BNSF officials. It's not clear how long Amtrak service will be disrupted, Magliari said. The company has issued a moratorium on train travel for 48 hours for passenger trains on the railway's double main line.

It's been a bad winter for mudslides in Washington, and tracks the carry Amtrak trains have been closed repeatedly, as well as, tracks for freight and commuter lines. The tracks where the derailment occurred had just been closed on March 21 due to mudslides and a freight train was derailed on the same stretch of tracks in October.

"This has been one of the most problematic years we've faced, historically," Melonas said. "It's due to day after day of successive rainfall."

BNSF is currently working on solutions to stop mudslides in the area, Melonas said. The mudslide on Sunday was about 100 feet down a slope, covering the tracks in debris about 30-feet-long and 15-feet-deep. BNSF is working to get the tracks working again as soon as possible.

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