Amtrak restoring service from Detroit to Chicago following derailment

From the Detroit Free Press:

From the Detroit Free Press
From the Detroit Free Press

Passenger rail service between metro Detroit and Chicago could be restored as early as this morning (Feb. 2, 2012) after a Chicago-bound Amtrak train smashed into a tractor-trailer Wednesday near Jackson, derailing several cars but causing no life-threatening injuries, officials said.

As many as 10 people were treated for injuries after the train carrying 68 passengers and five crew members collided with a semi stuck on tracks at a crossing in Leoni Township, said Sgt. Richard White of the Blackman-Leoni Public Safety Department.

The truck driver told authorities he was hauling a low-bed trailer that was too near to the ground to make it across tracks on North Portage Road near East Michigan Avenue.

The Amtrak Wolverine Line 351 train, heading toward Jackson going faster than 50 m.p.h., struck the truck at 8:19 a.m., White said.

The train was traveling from Pontiac to Chicago, Amtrak said.

Amtrak suspended service across central Michigan and arranged buses for passengers on the crashed train and other Wolverine line trains.

Passenger Kristen Sears of Oak Park said she was listening to music on her iPod when “I heard a big thump. After that I heard another thump.”

“I was sliding out of my seat, and people’s chairs were moving,” said Sears, 27, a loan officer who boarded the train in Dearborn for a trip to Chicago. “That’s when I knew we were in a crash. And then I saw one of the cars sliding across the grass.”

Sears said she was not hurt.

Michael Robinson, 29, of Rochester was heading back to Kalamazoo he hoped in time for an 11 a.m. class at Western Michigan University, where he is studying marketing and sales.

Robinson said he had dozed off and was awakened by loud bangs.

“I felt the car ride into the air and lift off the tracks,” Robinson said. “I was in total shock and praying for my life at that moment.”

Amtrak said passengers may call 800-872-7245 or go to for updates.