More information revealed about Amtrak derailment, technical issues

NOW: More information revealed about Amtrak derailment, technical issues

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- ABC57 is learning more details about what caused an Amtrak Train derailment in New Buffalo Township on Thursday.

Officials with the Berrien County 911 Center said on Monday that a technology failure and misidentification of the railroad crossing were to blame in the derailment. 

The 911 Director says dispatchers received two calls Thursday night warning about the stranded vehicle on the tracks.

However, the director claims a software issue prevented dispatch from putting in the correct location which in turn, left Amtrak with no warning. 

A radio call between a responding officer and Berrien County Dispatch shows the miscommunication that contributed to the collision. The officer is heard asking “You told the train not to come through? Because there's one coming right now,” and the dispatcher responds with "Yes we did tell them not to come through. I will call them back."

However, after roughly 40 seconds of silence, the officer radios back “The train derailed!”

The train then collided into the stranded car and tow truck that was sitting on the tracks. 

Out of the 200+ passengers on the train at the time, only six people were taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. 

The 911 Director says a technical issue within their software kept dispatchers from entering intersection cross streets, so they identified the location using a nearby business, but the railroad crossing they ended up identifying turned out to be the wrong one. 

The incorrect crossing led to dispatchers notifying and warning CSX railroad about the vehicle on the tracks, but not Amtrak. 

The Berrien County 911 Director says the technology issue has since been resolved and the county is closely reviewing its dispatch protocols, including the railroad crossing resource guide, to prevent something like this from happening again. 

Amtrak has since restored its Michigan train service this past weekend, and when asked, would not comment on today’s findings.

Berrien County officials say the investigation is still ongoing.

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