An Amtrak train hit a backhoe on Sunday in south Philadelphia when going from New York to Savannah, causing a derailment that killed two workers and wounded at least 30 passengers, said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer in a news conference.

There were approximately 341 passengers and seven crew members on board in the Amtrak Train 89, which was operating from New York City to Savannah. Around 8 a.m. it struck a backhoe that was on the track and derailed the lead engine, as reported by the train company in a statement issued Sunday.

Chester fire commissioner Travis Thomas has confirmed the death of two Amtrak workers said the Associated Press. After the crash, all Amtrak service between New York City and Philadelphia was suspended. Hours later, some routes have been already reopened.

Photo:  Clem Murray / Staff Photographer/ Philly
An Amtrak train hit a backhoe on Sunday in south Philadelphia when going from New York to Savannah. Photo: Clem Murray / Staff Photographer/ Philly

“Amtrak is providing limited service between Wilmington and Philadelphia after an earlier incident near Chester, Penn. Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg has not been affected. Amtrak is working with the NTSB to investigate the cause of the incident.” Said the company in a press release.

Later, at a New York news conference, U.S. Sen Chuck Schumer said to AP reporters that the employees who died were the backhoe operator and an supervisor. As a consequence of the crash, debris entered into the first two cabins, causing injuries to more than 30 people.

The cause of the incident has not been determined yet, but backhoes should not be on the train rails

It is still not clear if the backhoe was being used for maintenance or for removing debris from high winds. However, Amtrak has a “20-step protocol” that determines that backhoes should not interfere the track when trains are circulating.

It appears that the accident was caused due to “human error”, said Mr. Schumer. However, The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating the scene, as reported by AP.

A similar train crash occurred on May 12 last year in Philadelphia, when the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. The unit was carrying 238 people from Washington D.C. to New York City. Authorities have said that the train was traveling two times faster than legal levels, however, the case is still under investigation.

Source: The Associated Press