Two people have died after a train with 341 passengers on board derailed near Philadephia, forcing officials to close down the service along the busy stretch.

Dozens of people were wounded in the accident that took place in the town of Chester on Sunday shortly before 8:00am (12:00 GMT), news agencies reported.

The accident occurred after "a vehicle was struck on the tracks", said Travis Thomas, fire commissioner for Chester, Pennsylvania, at a press briefing.

"There were two deceased, but they were not passengers on the train," Thomas said.

Thomas said later that 35 people received hospital treatment for "non-life-threatening" injuries. He declined to provide additional details about the victims.

Amtrak - the company that operates the train, did not confirm the casualties but said the train had derailed after hitting a backhoe on the track.

Company spokesman Stephen Gardner told reporters that officials from the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to the scene of the disaster to launch an investigation.

Train service along a 50km stretch from Philadelphia south to Wilmington, Delaware was suspended, said Amtrak officials who did not give any indication as to when service would resume.

At least five people were killed in May last year when an Amtrak train derailed in the Frankfort section of Philadelphia.

Source: AP And AFP