The Amtrak Police Department is currently investigating a train collision that occurred near Princeton Junction Station in November.
The West Windsor Police Department responded to a Toyota Camry becoming stuck on the tracks at the Princeton Junction Station just after midnight on Nov. 20. The car was unable to be freed and was struck by Amtrak train 639 on its way from New York to Philadelphia.
59 people were aboard the train. The train terminated its route at Princeton Junction, and the passengers were taken to Trenton via New Jersey transit. A replacement train was sent to take passengers on the scheduled route. It arrived in Philadelphia at approximately 3:35 a.m., three hours and 25 minutes behind schedule.
The Toyota was destroyed and pushed into a police patrol car, which also sustained damage. Debris from the collision was also sent hurtling into two cars parked nearby, one of which belonged to the driver’s family, who had come to help. There were no injuries, but train traffic was halted for the next three hours.
The driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol and has since been charged with DWI and reckless driving. She was taken into custody and released pending appearance in court.
Upon notice of there being a vehicle trapped on the train tracks, all nearby trains were notified to stop. Train 639, however, continued into Princeton Junction at a high rate of speed.
Amtrak Public Relations Manager Jason Abrams said, “it doesn’t appear that 639 continued its route” but was rather “terminated at Princeton Junction,” which proved to be too late. He also stated that “there was no reported damage to the [train’s] equipment,” though news outlets covering the incident had described extensive damage being done to several of the train cars, including the engine.
When asked if there was anything that Amtrak was planning on doing to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future, Abrams said that “the safety of our customers, employees and public is our top priority” and that through a partnership with Operation Lifesaver, a national railroad education group, Amtrak has continued to reach out to “community groups, school bus drivers, truck drivers and student drivers to raise awareness of the dangers around railroad tracks and trains.”
The West Windsor Township Mayor’s Office deferred comment to the West Windsor Police Department, which deferred to the Amtrak Police Department.