A driver whose navigation system led to the Charleston Road crossing escaped the vehicle before it was struck by a southbound Caltrain and caught on fire Monday night, interrupting service on the commuter rail line.
The collision occurred at 7:22 p.m. and involved southbound train No. 386, according to Caltrain.
Palo Alto police said the vehicle's occupant was able to exit the vehicle prior to the collision.
Trains were halted near the incident. Firefighters and police officers were on scene, according to Caltrain.
There were about 600 passengers onboard the train, according to Caltrain. There were no reported injuries.
The Palo Alto firefighters arrived to the scene at 7:27 p.m. and knocked down the blaze in about 15 minutes, Battalion Chief Kevin McNally said.
The driver, who was the sole occupant of the car, had difficulties with the vehicle's navigation system and ended up stuck on the tracks, according to McNally.
The motorist was able to leave the vehicle, which was struck by a Caltrain and traveled 100 to 150 yards down the tracks toward San Antonio Road, the battalion chief said.
Firefighters found the vehicle's gas tank was punctured and leaking, McNally said.
"From my vantage point it (the car) was fairly indistinguishable, it was burned and smashed by the train," he said.
Alma Street was shut down so firefighters could lay down hose lines on the roadway, McNally said. Due to the vehicle's far distance from the intersection, crews had to access the car by setting up a ladder against a barbed-wire fence and climbing over.
Caltrain was reopening one track to allow trains to pass at "walking speed," according to the agency. Shortly after 8:40 p.m., the tow truck had arrived to move the damaged vehicle.
Minutes later, the Caltrain train involved in the collision was "air tested and cleared to move south," the agency announced. It was cleared to move at 30 mph, with plans to make stops in Sunnyvale and in San Jose.
Several trains were facing delays of up to 90 minutes as of 9 p.m., according to Caltrain.
The Charleston grade crossing was closed shortly after the crash and Palo Alto police issued a warning advising motorists to expect delays on Alma Street and to take alternate routes, if possible.
At 9:34 p.m. police said on Twitter that the grade crossing reopened.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.