In Train Crash, Safety Upgrade May Have Played a Role

Feb 6, 2018

Congress has mandated full implementation by December 31, 2018, after granting a three-year extension. When it became clear that few, if any, could meet that date, Congress pushed the deadline back to end of 2018 for installing equipment trackside and on locomotives, and until 2020 for implementation for some railroads.

“You’re going to see a lot of folks talking about positive train control (PTC)”, Washington Post transportation reporter Lori Aratani said. This is in their lap.

Two of the 116 people injured are in critical condition.

Implementing the system has taken railroads longer than expected, according to Tom Schnautz, an assistant vice president of Norfolk Southern Corp.

PTC utilizes Global Positioning System technology, detects the direction and speed of trains, can warn train operators of problems and automatically take action to prevent an incident, according to the AAR. According to the government, less than 40 percent of CSX tracks are equipped with PTC.

The complexities that have delayed its installation are legitimate and railroads should be allowed to use simpler technology, he said. The train’s speed then was 56 miles per hour, 3 MPH below the limit, he said. “It just makes zero sense”. The freight train remained on the track.

But the focus continues to be on a manually-operated switch at the site of the collision.

Investigators have conducted interviews and retrieved preliminary data from the Amtrak locomotive, which showed the horn was sounded seven seconds before the recording ended, Sumwalt said. However, when CSX got the bill, the company handed it over to Amtrak and to taxpayers. Trains run on tracks, after all.

One tank carrying chlorine was breached.

Several people on the train suffered minor injuries.

The crash damage topped $6.9 million.

National railroad safety expert Bob Comer believes the recent series of Amtrak crashes, including fatal accidents in SC and Washington State, should have riders demanding safety improvements. The NTSB investigation will seek to confirm its speed.

Allan Rutter, a railroad infrastructure specialist at Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute, said the system has to be compatible across dozens of different railroads to be effective, another hurdle to be crossed. In 2017, derailments accounted for almost one in three Amtrak train accidents, according to data from the FRA.

Sky News reports that the company has confirmed the accident. Surely some way of avoiding frequent rail accidents can be found.

Amidst the tragedy that all of the 139 passengers and 8 Amtrak employees experienced, first responders, medical personnel at area hospitals and even the passengers themselves acted with tremendous fearlessness as they worked together to free fellow passengers and get them to safety.

Raw: Wreckage of Amtrak Train Collision


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