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Derailed Amtrak Cars Near Steilacoom Cleared From Mainline Tracks

Courtesy of Greg Carlson
Passenger Greg Carlson took this photo after evacuating a derailed Amtrak Cascades train at Chambers Bay near Steilacoom on Sunday afternoon.

Freight and passenger service on the busy railroad mainline between Seattle and Portland should be getting back to normal later this afternoon. BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said an Amtrak train that derailed at low speed near Steilacoom, Washington, Sunday afternoon has been cleared from the tracks. "Through the night a rail specialist team that works with derailments picked up the equipment, re-railing the three cars that came off the track," Melonas said Monday. "As of 8 a.m. this morning, the locomotive was lifted back onto the track as well. That equipment has now been removed from the scene at Chambers Bay."

There were no serious injuries among the 267 passengers on board the Amtrak train that derailed. Melonas said Amtrak is in charge of the investigation into the cause. An eyewitness on board the train told public radio that passengers noticed track maintenance going on at the time of the mishap, which Melonas could not confirm.

About 60 trains on average per day run along the double track, waterside corridor where the derailment took place, according to BNSF. That includes ten Amtrak trains, five in each direction.

A statement from Amtrak posted overnight said customers on trains operating in the area Monday, including Amtrak Cascades and Coast Starlight, "should expect delays."

The train that derailed Sunday was Amtrak Cascades 506 traveling from Eugene to Seattle.

A passenger who was riding in the middle of the train, Greg Carlson of Seattle, told public radio on Sunday night that the impact of the derailment was less severe than slamming on the brakes in his automobile.

"There wasn’t like a severe veering of the coach that I was in, but you could tell something was off," Carlson said. "We were kind of going in this kind of disoriented stage, just kind of slowly. Then we felt the brakes. It was sudden, but there wasn’t a high pressure forward like you see in the movies or anything."