Missouri Amtrak train crashed at an ‘uncontrolled’ intersection. What does that mean?

·2 min read

An Amtrak train crashed Monday at an “uncontrolled” railroad crossing, meaning no lights or moving barriers to warn the public of the approaching train.

The train, which was carrying over 200 passengers and around 14 crew members, struck a dump truck and derailed at least eight cars. Officials initially reported three fatalities at the scene—two from the train and one from the dump truck. And at least 50 people have been reported injured.

“It’s an uncontrolled intersection on a gravel road,” said Missouri highway patrol spokesman Corporal Justin Dunn in a press conference following the incident. “So no lights, no electronic control devices, things such as that.”

The intersection—at County Road 113 and Porche Prairie Road in Mendon, Missouri—had been identified by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to receive safety upgrades in a plan published in February, but no timeline for the improvements was included. The upgrades were to include lights and gates.

‘The need is great’ for safer train crossings

There are approximately 3,800 public highway-rail crossings in Missouri, according to MoDOT’s Office of Multimodal Operations, which oversees rail services in the state.

Each year from 2017 to 2021, MoDOT has improved the safety features at about 20 of those crossings.

Nearly half of public train crossings in Missouri are not equipped with active warning devices such as bells, flashing lights and gates, according to a MoDOT report.

“Only the crossings with extreme amounts of train and vehicle traffic or other sight distance problems will receive lights/gates because the need is great,” the agency wrote on its website. MoDOT did not provide comment after being contacted by The Star.

Several cars of an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed Monday afternoon after it struck a dump truck at a crossing in northern Missouri, Amtrak announced. More than 200 people were on board the train at the time of the crash, which was first reported about 12:43 p.m. near Mendon, Missouri, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Three people were killed in the crash, the patrol said, including two people on the train and one person in the dump truck.
Several cars of an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed Monday afternoon after it struck a dump truck at a crossing in northern Missouri, Amtrak announced. More than 200 people were on board the train at the time of the crash, which was first reported about 12:43 p.m. near Mendon, Missouri, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Three people were killed in the crash, the patrol said, including two people on the train and one person in the dump truck.

How safe is rail travel in Missouri and beyond?

Last year, more than 2,100 train collisions were reported in the U.S., with 237 fatalities from those crashes.

In Missouri, there were 37 total fatalities and 89 total injuries at highway-rail crossings from 2016 through 2020.

Collisions at rail-highway crossings and interference by trespassers make up 95% of rail-related fatalities, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). These crossing collisions like Monday’s crash dropped 39% from 2000 to 2020, according to AAR.

Several cars of an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed Monday afternoon after it struck a dump truck at a crossing in northern Missouri, Amtrak announced. More than 200 people were on board the train at the time of the crash, which was first reported about 12:43 p.m. near Mendon, Missouri, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Three people were killed in the crash, the patrol said, including two people on the train and one person in the dump truck. Investigators looked over the intersection where the remains of the truck came to rest.
Several cars of an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed Monday afternoon after it struck a dump truck at a crossing in northern Missouri, Amtrak announced. More than 200 people were on board the train at the time of the crash, which was first reported about 12:43 p.m. near Mendon, Missouri, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Three people were killed in the crash, the patrol said, including two people on the train and one person in the dump truck. Investigators looked over the intersection where the remains of the truck came to rest.

MODOT’s rail division employs five safety inspectors, who are tasked with ensuring safety at crossings.

The agency recently published a draft of a new plan to address the safety of train crossings in the state.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Train derailed Monday afternoon, June 27, 2022, after colliding with a dump truck at an intersection northeast of Kansas City near the town of Mendon, killing multiple people and leaving dozens injured.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Train derailed Monday afternoon, June 27, 2022, after colliding with a dump truck at an intersection northeast of Kansas City near the town of Mendon, killing multiple people and leaving dozens injured.

How can I report a dangerous train intersection?

If you’re aware of an unsafe crossing location or other railroad safety issue, call 573-526-2169 or click on this “Report a Road Concern” link. When filling in the online form, be sure to write “railroad crossing” in the “other” box. Railroad inspectors are tasked with investigating these public comments.

Do you have more questions about transportation safety in Kansas City and beyond? Ask the Service Journalism team at kcq@kcstar.com.

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