Amtrak will modify its train schedules in New England over the next two days after eight people were injured during a derailment in central Vermont on Monday morning.
Amtrak train #55, also called the Vermonter, was expected to make stops in Hartford and New Haven. It was traveling from Saint Albans, VT. to Washington, D.C. when it derailed after reportedly striking a rock slide on the tracks at 10:30 a.m., Amtrak officials said.
There were 98 passengers and four crew members on the train at the time of the derailment.
The track is owned by the New England Central Railroad.
At an afternoon news conference, officials said the train hit rocks that had fallen onto the tracks from a ledge above. One locomotive and one passenger car went over an embankment, and three other cars left the track but remained upright.
"This was a freak of nature," Gov. Peter Shumlin said.
Amtrak officials said six of the eight injured were taken by ambulance to Central Vermont Medical Center, and one victim was taken via helicopter to Dartmouth Medical Center. All of injured passengers suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to authorities.
The train reportedly derailed in Roxbury, VT., which is about 20 miles southwest of Montpelier.
At least several dozen passengers were loaded onto school buses to be taken to an armory at nearby Norwich University.
Upon notification of the derailment Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn activated the State Emergency Operations Center to offer assistance and assets to local responders on the scene, officials said.
The Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, Vermont State Police, state Search and Rescue, Agency of Transportation, Department of Health and Red Cross reported to assist.
The Vermont Hazmat Team responded to contain a fuel spill and local search and rescue teams provided assistance by sweeping the area to make sure all passengers and crew were accounted for.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation estimates it will take several days for the owner of the track to clear the train and the rock slide, according to Vermont's governor.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said he will call on the Federal Railroad Administration and National Transportation Safety Board “to move swiftly to investigate this derailment.”
“Today’s derailment, which left a horrifying zigzag of steel sliding off the tracks, raises anew important, vital questions about rail safety and maintenance. It is critical that we learn whether this accident was avoidable, so that we can ensure that similar tragedies do not happen in the future,” Blumenthal said in a statement on Monday.
While investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong, Amtrak is making some changes in train service. On Tuesday and Wednesday, trains will not run north of Springfield, Ma.
For more updates on travel conditions, click here.
Individuals with questions about their friends and family on train 55 should call Amtrak’s Emergency Hotline at 800-523-9101.
Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.