Amtrak ordered to take rail safety steps after crash

17 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amtrak ordered to take rail safety steps after crash.

Amtrak will expand its use of a speed restriction system on Philadelphia’s northbound rails and abide by other federal directives issued after one of its trains crashed in the city last week, killing eight people, after speeding into a curve, the company said yesterday (May 16). Amtrak must take immediate steps to improve the safety of its busiest route after a derailment in Philadelphia this week that killed eight passengers and sent more than 200 to local hospitals, U.S. federal regulators said on Saturday. The Federal Railroad Administration said an emergency order would be issued in coming days that calls for Amtrak to ensure the presence of the automatic train control system that notifies an engineer when a train is above the speed limit and automatically applies the brakes if the engineer doesn’t act to slow the train down. As investigators gather evidence about this week’s deadly crash of Train 188 along Amtrak’s Washington-to-New York run, new reports offer some tantalizing possibilities. Amtrak said it would abide by the federal directive and others announced Saturday, adding that Amtrak’s “overarching goal is to provide safe and secure rail passenger travel.” The train was traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York when it flew off the tracks at Philadelphia.

Feinberg added that the most important safety step will be full implementation of positive train control, a more robust system for avoiding accidents than ATC. The ill-fated train was barreling north at more than twice the 50-mile-per-hour speed limit when it entered a sharp curve and derailed, leaving a trail of tangled metal and human carnage alongside the track. Another are reports that Bostian’s prior run that day had been required to travel at slow speed, putting him behind schedule, reducing the time for rest and preparation, and perhaps leaving him “frazzled,” according to a longtime engineer who spoke to the Daily Beast. Bostian’s earlier train experienced a “cab signal failure” after it departed New York for Washington Tuesday afternoon, which meant that Bostian could not rely on the electronic indicators and audible alerts in the cab and instead would have to observe, register, and interpret the signals – all of which relate to speed – with no backup.

Company spokesman Craig Schulz said Saturday that Amtrak also plans to look into whether it can partially activate some of the capabilities already installed along the Northeast Corridor without delaying the complete activation of the next-generation system later this year. The system — which can be programmed with specific speed limits based on work schedules, track curvature and other conditions — is in service on only 50 of the 226 miles between Washington and New York. In a fresh twist to the investigation, Sumwalt revealed on Friday that the Amtrak train and a SEPTA train may have been hit by objects shortly before the accident. He voluntarily allowed a blood sample to be taken, indicating no presence of drugs, medicines, or alcohol, and he immediately turned over his cell phone, which had been switched off during the run.

The FRA also ordered the publicly funded railroad to assess the risk of curves along the corridor and install technology to prevent derailments where curves require much slower speeds than on the track approaching them. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said investigators have been documenting safety features in all cars and testing signals and signal circuitry as the track was being rebuilt. SEPTA spokeswoman Kristin Geiger said it was not yet known whether the projectile was thrown at the train or sent by other means, or what the projectile was. A projectile may also have hit a third train, an Amtrak Acela, about five minutes before it entered the 30th Street station, near the site of Amtrak derailment, local media reported, citing an account of a passenger.

A memorial service was held Saturday for 39-year-old educational-software executive Rachel Jacobs in New York, and a funeral is scheduled Monday in Holmdel, New Jersey, for Robert Gildersleeve Jr., 45, of Elkridge, Maryland.

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