South Carolina Crash Raises Fears About Lax Safety Culture at Amtrak
Commentators are concerned about a lax safety culture at Amtrak after the fourth fatal train crash in seven weeks and they are not alone.
Federal investigators believe a track switch locked in the wrong position resulted in Sunday’s deadly Amtrak collision with an idle CSX freight train, reported NPR.
Although the National Transportation Safety Board, the body conducting the investigation into the deadly South Carolina train crash, is hesitant to talk about a lax safety culture at Amtrak, others are concerned. As an experienced railroad injury lawyer, I am very alarmed about this spate of deadly train wrecks. An engineer and a conductor lost their lives in the latest train crash.
Train 91 was bound for Miami from Penn Station in New York City. It was diverted onto a side track, where it crashed into a parked freight train at about 2:45 a.m. ET on Sunday. As well as the two crew members who were killed, more than 100 passengers were injured. Our railroad injury lawyers are representing injured Amtrak passengers.
Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board are focusing on two issues that may be related to the head-on collision. One is the position of a track switch that steered the passenger train away from the mainline track and onto the siding where the freight train was parked. The second serious issue, NPR reported, was wayside signals in the area that were down for maintenance and upgrades, and inoperative at the time of the crash.
Amtrak pointed out CSX maintains the tracks. The freight operators appear to be predominantly liable for this crash but the same cannot be said of recent wrecks.
On Dec. 16 an Amtrak train operating a new route between Seattle and Portland derailed as it reached a curve on a highway overpass. Three people were killed and more than 70 were injured.
The train was traveling at more than 50 mph above the posted limit. The engineer in the crash claimed he did not see a key milepost or a signal warning him to reduce speed in the minutes leading up to the derailment.
Amtrak and other railroads have come under pressure for failing to implement Positive Train Control, a system that could have prevented these crashes.
The system uses GPS, wireless radio signals and computers on trains to track precisely where trains are and will automatically slow down or stop trains traveling too fast or nearing a collision with another train. The system overrides human error. It takes over if the engineer misses a slow or stop signal or is distracted.
The railroads were originally given until 2015 to implement PTC but pushed back the deadline. Now Congress is getting increasingly frustrated.
NPR reported Congress. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., described further inaction as “inexcusable.”
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., said “time’s up” on further delays and that 2018 “has to be a hard, legal deadline for all passenger railroads to implement PTC.”
Talk of a lax safety culture at Amtrak is backed up by injuries and deaths. If you have been hurt in a train crash, please call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077.