Amtrak Back on Track

By: Chris Brennaman and Wade Phillips
By: Chris Brennaman and Wade Phillips

Two train wrecks in a week ground Amtrak's rail service between New Orleans and Atlanta to a halt.

Those accidents had a lot to do with the temporary shutdown of Amtrak in Meridian. Amtrak and freight train companies share many of the same tracks, but now the Amtrak Crescent Line is back up and running.

The fact, that accidents do sometimes happen doesn't seem to bother some riders, including traveling along the same section of track that was torn up just last week.

Leroy Nash says that knowing that the accidents involved freight trains rather than passenger trains influenced his decision to ride Monday.

"Well, Amtrak has had quite a few accidents, too. Due to the fact that I am a frequent member that travels on Amtrak a lot, there have been times when I did change my mind and didn't go because Amtrak had accidents," said Nash.

Amtrak officials say that since safety is such a big concern for them, they weren't going to send any trains out until they were sure that the tracks were safe.

Officials also said that passenger rail is one of the safest forms of transportation.

According to Marc Magliari, manager of Amtrak media relations, six passengers and one crew member have died since 2000 in Amtrak mishaps: One on the California Zephyr in Iowa in 2001, four on the Auto Train in Florida in 2002 and one on the City of New Orleans in Mississippi in 2004 and an engineer on one of the Silver Service trains in Georgia in 2003.

Compare that with more than 200,000 who have died on U.S. highways, and in that same time period, less than 600 passengers have died in airplane accidents.

The original version of the story shown above listed some numbers that were incorrect. The number first attached to train accidents was fatalities that happened at railroad crossings, rather than deaths happening on trains. The necessary changes have been made. WTOK regrets the error.


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