Train 20 from New Orleans became disabled shortly after midnight when seven of the nine cars ran off the track but stayed upright near Spartanburg, Amtrak said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
“The train started to buck, started to twist,” passenger Barbara Gray told WHNS-TV. “Some of us were falling out of our chairs.”
Spartanburg County Deputy Fire Marshal Tony Barnett said by telephone that the cars had derailed, but Amtrak in its later email said only that the train had become disabled when the seven affected cars lost contact with the tracks.
“There are no cars overturned,” Barnett told The Associated Press from the scene about six miles west of Spartanburg in a semirural area where railway officials, firefighters, sheriffs’ officials and emergency first-responders also were on hand. He described the location as a semi-rural area outside that city.
Capt. Derrick Miller with the Westview-Fairforest Fire Department told WSPA-TV the seven cars came off the tracks onto gravel. The station reported that work crews were at the scene deciding how to clear the area.
Barnett said there were no serious injuries, though he added four passengers with some minor injuries were taken to a hospital for further evaluation. He added that rail service was continuing on a nearby track that was unaffected.
Amtrak said the two locomotives of Train 20 also remained upright along with the passenger cars and a baggage car at the rear.
“Heating, lighting and other systems were quickly re-established aboard the train, with meals and other refreshments provided to the passengers,” said the Amtrak statement. Temperatures were in the 20s during the early morning hours.
Amtrak said the train left New Orleans on Sunday morning and had been due in New York City on Monday afternoon. It added that transportation was being arranged to deliver passengers to their scheduled stops between Spartanburg and New York on buses that arrived around 7 a.m.
Some passengers were being taken to Washington, D.C., to be placed on other trains.
Amtrak officials and Barnett said they had no immediate report on the cause.
Amtrak said the matter was being investigated by Amtrak and Norfolk Southern, which owns and controls and maintains that portion of the Crescent’s route. The Federal Railroad Administration also was involved in the investigation, Amtrak added.