A northbound MARC commuter train, traveling slower than 20 mph, rear-ended an AMTRAK train in a tunnel near Penn Station yesterday, sending some passengers sprawling and causing minor injuries to 16 people.
Howard Robertson, a spokesman for Amtrak based in Washington, said the four-car Maryland Commuter Rail train No. 410 hit the 10-car Boston-bound Amtrak Virginian in the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel south of the station about 11 a.m.
The MARC locomotive rammed and coupled with the Virginian's rear passenger car, he said. There was no significant damage to the trains, which proceeded to Penn Station, Mr. Robertson said.
Jon Simon, a 36-year-old Silver Spring resident and a first-year law student at the University of Maryland, said the collision "threw almost everyone to the floor."
"An elderly woman who sat across from me said she might have been injured, but later she was walk ing OK," Mr. Simon said. A conductor who was riding between cars when the collision occurred said he injured his ankle, Mr. Simon said.
"I asked one of the train workers" about the cause of the accident," Mr. Simon said. "He said, 'Yeah, we hit that Amtrak train. It's not supposed to be on the track.' "
Mr. Robertson said the cause of the accident is under investigation. The brakes on both trains and the track signals were all working, he said. Both train crews were tested for drug and alcohol use, as was the dispatcher in Philadelphia.
Seven passengers and two MARC employees -- a conductor and assistant conductor -- went to Baltimore-area hospitals, where they were treated and released, Mr. Robertson said. Two other Baltimore-bound passengers said they were injured but declined to go to the hospital. He declined to release any names.
[MARC spokesman Bob Shreeve said those who were injured were standing in the aisles when the accident happened, the Associated Pressreported.]
As the Virginian continued north, two Amtrak passengers who left the train at Wilmington, Del., asked to be taken to hospitals there. Two more passengers leaving the train in Philadelphia did the same, as did a conductor. All were treated and released, Mr. Roberston said.
Amtrak, MARC, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration are all investigating the accident.
"This is a rarity," Mr. Robertson said. "This hardly ever happens."