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Posted on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

After train crash, Amtrak to offer passengers bus service to Chicago

By Cindy Heflin


Passengers wait at the scene of an Amtrak train crash this morning in Jackson County.

Jackson Citizen Patriot photo

Amtrak will offer passengers bus service between Ann Arbor and Jackson until track damaged in the crash of a train and semi tractor-trailer rig in Jackson County can be repaired, a spokesman said.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the company would offer bus service to passengers who have purchased tickets on trains scheduled to depart Ann Arbor at 12:29 p.m. and 7:17 p.m. today.

Norfolk Southern, which owns the tracks was working to repair them this afternoon and expected to have them reopened by Thursday morning, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported.

Ten people were injured this morning when the train crashed into a semi tractor-trailer rig stuck on the tracks at about 8:15 a.m., the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported.

The driver of the semi-trailer and the conductor of the train, along with others, were taken to Allegiance Health in Jackson with non-life threatening injuries, Blackman-Leoni Township Public Safety Director Mike Jester told the Citizen Patriot.

Uninjured passengers have been placed on Jackson Transit Authority buses and are being taken to Jackson, the newspaper reported. From there, Amtrak was to make travel arrangements, said Jackson County Sheriff Steven Rand.

Magliari said 68 passengers and five crew members were on the train, which was traveling from Pontiac to Chicago. The train, known as the Wolverine, departs from Ann Arbor every day at 7:48 a.m., 12:29 p.m. and 7:17 p.m. The train traveling today consisted of two locomotives and six railcars, Amtrak said.

Amtrak said passengers who have paid for travel but wish to change plans can receive rail fare refunds or rebook for future travel without a fee or penalty. Passengers may call 800-USA-RAIL for information.



Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 7:31 a.m.

These kind's of accidents disturb me. First off, in respect to a majority of people out there this would have NEVER occurred if it were not for something that was stupid. How in the world does someone get stuck on railroad tracks? It's actually impossible unless your being stupid and have somehow ran off into the rocks or something. If you are driving normally, no matter what type of vehicle your in, you will pass over the tracks just fine. The answer that the semi truck was some how "stuck" on the tracks stinks to high heaven. Period. It's time to stop making excuses for people. The folks that own these rails have actually went above and beyond to ensure their safety, even at road crossings. Simple, when those arms go down, even if it's a malfunction. STOP! Notify the police department if its ongoing and causing a traffic issue with no train. Let the police do their jobs of moving traffic and notifiying the rail owners. You may just have to find another way around. Why is it that people are in a hurry to get nowhere? Those that run those gates probably have nowhere to go. This was not the railroads problem. This was a stupid drivers problem and he/she should lose their license and be made to go back to truck driving school and learn the rules of the road. YOU CANNOT GET STUCK ON RAILROAD TRACKS!

Rod Johnson

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

If the grade is steep (consider the grade crossings at Zeeb in Scio or Fletcher near Chelsea), and the trailer is long, it's quite possible to get stuck on railroad tracks. And in this case, if the truck was stuck BEFORE the gates went down, that claim doesn't really hold water either.

Marie Willnow

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

I have taken the train many times to Chicago from Ann Arbor with no problem. It is a safe, inexpensive and easy way to get there. I would rather take the train than have to get to the airport 2 hours early just to.take an hour flight.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

I agree Marie it is safe overall, but wow, when their is an accident it is a major incident. I am glad no one had life threatening injuries.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Agreed. But, they need to fund it so that not just the poor and seniors ride it.


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

This is one reason I am not sure about high speed trains. Imagine how bad this could be at a higher rate of speed. I hope they have some high backed seats facing the rear.

Phil K.

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

I wonder how much longer are these tracks Norfolk Southern's to maintain? The line from K-zoo to Dearborn is supposed to become Amtrak property soon (which was the root of the *cough* "speed restrictions" from earlier this year. NS didn't want to maintain property they were going to sell off in the first place.)


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

I'm not sure when the actual transfer of title will happen, but they only worked out the final details in late September/early October according to this MDot story. <a href=",4616,7-151-9620-263585--,00.html" rel='nofollow'>,4616,7-151-9620-263585--,00.html</a> And as noted in that story, Norfolk Southern retains the right to continue to operate freight trains as needed on the tracks. So the odds are good that freight trains will still be seen on this line even after the sale is final.


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

I don't think the line has been sold yet I see NS running it daily with their trucks atleast once a day...

Phil K.

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

jcj: No, just curious. The line was supposed to have been sold to Amtrak late last year, but the article says NS is doing the repair work. Fault in this case is pretty cut and dry.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Are you implying this was the fault of the tracks?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

Oh how I wish there were a couple symbols after each post to indicate what we think of a particular post. One could be a graduation cap. One could be a dunce cap!


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

what, they couldn't spring for airline tickets?

Ed Kimball

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Maybe the flights from Jackson to Chicago were full!

Blanch DuBois

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

I used to work in the airline industry....I'd opt for the train too.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Question is- why was the semi with the low boy trailer going over that specific crossing. I am from that area and that crossing is steep and on a hill. Its not a wonder the trailer got stuck, they sit low to to the ground anyways. This was not the rails fault. There was nothing wrong with the rail.


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

From the sounds of it, it sounds like another sign needs to be erected saying &quot;No Low Boys Allowed&quot; Or even a clearance signage. I'd like to see the end report on this one.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

cute jcj cute. :-)


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Could not have been driver error! Must be the road commissions fault!

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:39 p.m.

This could have been totally preventable if: 1. Norfolk Southern had bothered to erect proper rail crossing barriers with flashing lights. 2. If Norfolk Southern were to actually properly maintain its tracks that Amtrak leases and uses. 3. If Amtrak were to actually invest in infrastructure, including satellite-based crash avoidance systems that are quite common everywhere except in the United States. Until we fund railroads properly, we will continue to reap what we sow. Nada!


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

Little Old Lady, Proper signage might have prevented this accident; but barriers would not have. A barrier would not stop a truck from crossing tracks that it shouldn't be crossing. And proper signs are the responsibility of the DOT that owns the road; not Amtrak or Norfolk Southern. In fact it would be illegal for either Amtrak or NS to erect any signs. They are considered traffic control devices and RR companies do NOT have any authority to install a traffic control device on a road. In fact, a RR can even install gates at a crossing without the permission of the DOT that owns the road, because again it is a traffic control device. So at least for now, and based upon that which has been reported to date, any fault in this accident would rest either with the DOT that owns the road and/or the truck driver.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 2:10 a.m.

jcj, proper barriers and signage would've have prevented this accident.


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

That crossing has signs, flashing red lights and gates why do you say it does not? I live very close to that location. If NS were to properly maintain its tracks that would prevent a semi pulling a low boy trailer to cross at this location? And get stuck because the trailer is too low to the road? Common sense and drivers responsibility would have prevented this accident....


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

Dear LOL, Fact Check: 1. Proper rail crossing lights and barriers exist in this location; a simple review of the photos shows them in place and functioning 2. Track maintenance does not prevent vehicles from stopping on the tracks, only vehicle drivers can do this 3. &quot;Satellite-based crash avoidance systems&quot; may help prevent train-train collisions but will not prevent grade crossing accidents such as these.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

WHAT? No problem with the truck driver that blocked the track? He was according to the Jackson account stuck BEFORE the signal was activated! Cheez. What and unrealistic rant about this situation.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

Thank goodness for having a fresh change of clothes on board...whew


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Dear Granger, Here we go with the Midwestern train hatred again!

Ron Granger

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

And the irony- After all this the bus will probably still get them to Chicago sooner than if they had stayed on the train and it had not derailed.

Ed Kimball

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Ron, when I've taken the train, it's adhered pretty closely to the schedule.

Ron Granger

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

David, that's the schedule. I was referring to the real world.

David Cotton

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Not a very fair comment, or researched comment. A quick look at the amtrak schedule shows the journey from Ann Arbor to Chicago taking about 3 hours 40 minutes. The greyhound schedule shows the same journey taking 5 hours 20 minutes.

Brian M.

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

amtrak has actually sped up a lot in recent months to the point where it's pretty close to megabus.