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Amtrak Train Collides With Freight Train

February 5, 1988

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ An Amtrak passenger train ran a red signal and collided with a Burlington Northern freight train Thursday, slightly injuring 13 people, authorities said.

Angela Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, said an Amtrak crew member told investigators that the passenger train ran the signal.

Witnesses confirmed that account, according to Gary Telfer, manager of public affairs for Burlington Northern’s Chicago region.

Interviews with crew members indicated the passenger train reduced its speed before the collision, but the rates were not known, said Bill Loftus, executive director of the FRA.

About 12 people, including train engineers and the dispatcher, will be tested for alcohol and drugs, Loftus said.

It was the second Amtrak accident in less than a week. An Amtrak train carrying 160 people slammed into a work vehicle on tracks outside Philadelphia Jan. 29, injuring 25 people.

The train that derailed Thursday had about 190 passengers and originated in Oakland, Calif. It left Omaha at 7:23 a.m. for Chicago, and the accident occurred about 15 minutes later, said ticket agent Jerry Butcher.

There were 123 cars on the freight train, which was struck near the caboose.

Assistant Fire Chief Bob Warsocki said about 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the Amtrak train, but that the spill was contained and there was no danger of fire.

Five empty cars on the freight train derailed, including the boxcar that was struck by the Amtrak train.

Both the Amtrak engines derailed, but remained upright, Butcher said.

Four other cars - a mail car and three baggage cars - derailed. There were 10 other cars on the train.

Thirteen people, including seven Amtrak employees, were treated at two hospitals and released. Amtrak leased several buses to take passengers to Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis.

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