National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are on the scene to determine if the cause of an Amtrak train derailment in rural southwestern Kansas was caused by a previous crash that may have bent the tracks.
It was reported that 32 people were taken to hospitals 120 miles west of Wichita. Some 131 passengers and 14 crew members were aboard when the two locomotives and nine cars derailed. Five train cars were reported to be on their side, according to the state police.
The Southwest 4 train that was en route from Los Angeles to Chicago was reported to be traveling about 75 miles per hour when the conductor told reporters that he applied the emergency brakes after spotting the unusual bend in the tracks.
The train should be equipped with a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)-mandated Event Recorder (similar to a black box in an airplane but with far less parameters) and a voluntarily-installed Locomotive Digital Video Recorder on the front of the locomotive that records video and audio data from the front of the train looking straight ahead. All of this will be examined by NTSB officials.
The county sheriff’s office in the area said it is preserving the track area to determine if a previous vehicle accident there caused the track damage. The owner of the track is reported to be Burlington Northern.