'Down we went': Several hurt after Amtrak derailment in central Vermont

At least six people were reported hurt, one seriously, after an Amtrak train derailed in central Vermont, sending some cars plunging down a steep embankment. Investigators say the train hit a rockslide.

Passenger Bob Redmond says he was taking a scenic tour of the autumn leaves when the cars started tipping and "down we went." Riders say they broke windows and helped others out after the crash.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said there was no sign of negligence from the train's crew.

One victim was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Central Vermont Medical Center reports it's treating six other patients for injuries that are not life-threatening. They include neck, back and shoulder pain.

Amtrak said a crew member was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries but four other people were released by Monday evening.

New England Central Railroad, which operates the stretch of tracks in Vermont, has had 54 accidents since 2006, including 14 derailments. Three people died in those accidents, according to federal records.

Vermont State Police and and other first responders are on the scene in Norwich, located outside Montpelier and about 2 miles south of Norwich University.

Passengers said the train was traveling about 50 mph when it derailed, the Barre Montpelier Times Argus reports. There appeared to be about 80 passengers on board.

The 13-hour, 45-minute daily trip begins in St. Albans in northern Vermont, according to the Amtrak website. The train is supposed to pass through Burlington, Vermont, Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York before arriving in D.C.

The Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security is coordinating with local law enforcement, and other state agencies are also on hand should additional assistance be needed, MyFoxBoston reports.

The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating. It was sending a small team rather than the full-blown effort made for a fatal Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia in May.

The track where Monday's crash occurred had been part of a $220 million upgrade of New England Central Railroad tracks. In early 2013, after the upgrade had been completed, the speed limit in the area was increased from 55 mph to 59 mph.

Shumlin said there was no reason to believe there was any negligence on anyone's part.

"We don't have all the details, but this track was rebuilt, it was state-of-the-art track," he said. "Ledge slides happen."

Federal records show New England Central Railroad, which operates that stretch of tracks, has had four accidents since 2006 that could have involved track debris. The company was bought by Genesee and Wyoming Railroad in 2012, and of 54 total accidents that involved the railroad since 2006, six occurred under the new management, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. spokesman Michael Williams said. Of three people who died in accidents involving the railroad, two were trespassers and one was in a grade crossing accident.

Federal safety rules for tracks that carry passengers require at least two inspections every week, with at least one day between inspections.

State officials said a freight train passed over the tracks Sunday night with no problems.

When asked if there was technology available that could have detected the slide before the train went through, officials said no.

"There is not really anything that's going to detect this kind of thing," said Vermont Agency of Transportation rail chief Dan Delabruere.

Numerous derailments worldwide have been caused by track debris, many linked to heavy rains that trigger slides or heavy winds that knock down trees. In 2010, a train in Beijing hit mounds of debris on the track following a landslide, killing 19 people.

The region near Monday's derailment received 2.5 inches of rain between Thursday and Friday.

The Vermonter takes the route daily, beginning in northern Vermont. The 13-hour, 45-minute trip leaves St. Albans, Vermont, at 8:58 a.m. then passes through Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York, with D.C. as the destination.

Three cars that left the track Monday remained upright. Rail company officials confirmed details of the crash but did not immediately provide a comment.

Tracy Zaplitny, also of Bay City, said she and other passengers broke a window to get out of the train.

"It's a huge wreck up there," she said.

At least several dozen passengers were loaded onto school buses to be taken to an armory at nearby Norwich University. Passengers helped each other after the crash.

The clearing of the track was to begin immediately, although officials did not know how long it would take before the section is reopened. Amtrak planned to bus passengers booked on the Vermonter to and from Springfield.

Click for more from the Barre Montpelier Times Argus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.