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Truck was on tracks despite gates when struck by Amtrak train: U.S. report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A garbage truck was on the tracks despite lowered safety gates when it was struck by a train carrying Republican lawmakers in a fatal crash last month in rural Virginia, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday.

Data from a camera mounted on the front of the chartered Amtrak train showed the gates were down at the crossing at the time of the crash, according to a preliminary NTSB report on the Jan. 31 accident.

The report added that “witnesses to the crash reported that the refuse truck entered the crossing after the gates were down.”

A passenger on the garbage truck was killed and two others on the truck were injured. No lawmakers were seriously injured but one lawmaker was taken to a hospital as a precaution and released.

The NTSB said previously that the Amtrak train was traveling at 61 miles per hour (98 km per hour) when the engineer applied the brakes in the crash in Crozet, Virginia.

The train was taking lawmakers from Washington to an annual Republican retreat in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia and had hundreds of passengers on board.

In 2016, the latest year for which full-year statistics are available, there were 2,041 crashes at U.S. train crossings that killed 260 people and injured more than 800, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Those crashes accounted for 30 percent of all rail-related fatalities.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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