October 16, 2014
Sight-Seeing Passenger Train Collides With Freight Train In Arkansas, 5 Critically Injured

Two trains have collided in rural northwest Arkansas, leaving five critically injured.

ABC News reports that a freight train has collided with a sight-seeing passenger train in northwest Arkansas. The passenger train was carrying tourists on a fall-foliage tour in the Ozark Mountains when the accident occurred Thursday near Winslow, about 175 miles northwest of Little Rock. Washington County Emergency Management Director John Luther says 50 people were aboard the two trains and that 37 were able to walk away from the accident.

According to CBS, deputies responded to the crash around 10:30 a.m. More than 10 ambulances were reportedly at the site and two medical helicopters also landed at the site. Railroad spokesman Ron Sparks says a conductor on one of the trains was airlifted from the scene with possible back injuries.

The passenger train was carrying tourists on a sight-seeing trip, known as an "excursion train," operated by Arkansas & Missouri Railroad. The railroad's website notes that excursion trains are a special train that allow passengers "a window seat to history."

"Arkansas and Missouri Railroad's special passenger train services offer you 'A Window Seat to History' -- an opportunity to travel in the style of a bygone era. You can still enjoy the leisurely elegance of real train travel through the mountains and valleys of Northwest Arkansas. Over trestles with views for miles and through a quarter mile tunnel, your journey will take you all the way to the top of the scenic Boston Mountains and into the historic Arkansas River Basin."
Looking at the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad schedule, it appears the crash involved the train that runs from Springdale to Van Buren. The train leaves the Springdale station at 8:00am and travels to Van Buren and back. The description of the excursion says that passengers get an eight-hour excursion through the Boston Mountains.

Image of the Arkansas Missouri Railroad train system.
Image of the Arkansas Missouri Railroad train system. You can see that the Springdale to Van Buren route would take passengers right over the Winslow area where the crash occurred.
"Enjoy an eight-hour scenic excursion through the Boston Mountains with a three-hour layover in downtown Van Buren for lunch and shopping."
The National Transportation Safety Board says its investigators are heading to the scene. Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Rick Fahr says it's unclear whether the trains crashed head-on.

This isn't the first train wreck involving a passenger train. A train derailed in Chicago earlier this year after the driver possibly dozed off.