Amtrak service resumes between Philadelphia and NYC

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amtrak service in busy Northeast corridor resumes Monday.

PHILADELPHIA — As Amtrak trains begin rolling between New York and Philadelphia for the first time in almost a week following a deadly crash in Philadelphia, officials are vowing to have safer trains and tracks while investigators are trying to determine the cause of the derailment.Travel between Philadelphia and New York was suspended following the derailment of the train that left eight people dead and injured more than 200 others last Tuesday. Amtrak officials said Sunday that trains along the busy Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston would resume service Monday in “complete compliance” with federal safety orders following last week’s deadly derailment. First, a catastrophic derailment north of Philadelphia last Tuesday night that killed at least eight and seriously injured several dozen more and then, within a matter of hours, a House committee votes against higher Amtrak funding.

The accident might have been avoided entirely if the passenger rail system had the resources to install positive train control over the entire Northeast Corridor, a technology that would have automatically prevented the train from going 106 miles per hour on a curve limited to 50 mph. At a service Sunday evening at the site to honor the crash victims, Boardman choked up as he called Tuesday “the worst day for me as a transportation professional.” He vowed that the wrecked train and its passengers “will never be forgotten.” “We’ll open with service tomorrow morning, a safer service,” Boardman said Sunday. “We quickly made changes, and I’m grateful.

I’m thankful.” Amtrak planned to resume service along the corridor Monday with the 5:30 a.m. southbound train leaving New York City and the 5:53 a.m. northbound train leaving Philadelphia. Federal regulators on Saturday ordered Amtrak to expand use of a speed-control system long in effect for southbound trains near the crash site to northbound trains in the same area.

Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Kevin Thompson said Sunday the automatic train control system is now fully operational on the northbound tracks. Trains going through that section of track will be governed by the system, which alerts engineers to slow down when their trains go too fast and automatically applies the brakes if the train continues to speed. It’s far more likely that a person will die because they steered their car into a train (247 deaths at railroad crossings last year) than in a train derailment. When measured against the total vehicle miles traveled, a person is at least 14 times more likely to die in a car, motorcycle or truck wreck than on board a long-haul train. Many were riding home to their families, he said. “Their memories forever in our minds will fuel our work to make intercity passenger rail and our entire network in the United States stronger and safer,” he said.

Mayor Michael Nutter praised the work of first responders, hospital personnel and residents he called “citizen responders” who rushed toward the wreckage with bottled water and who opened their doors to shocked victims. Experts say the U.S. needs to spend at least $96 billion annually, or more than twice what it allocates for surface transportation each year, to keep up. We will be looking at that to see if that corresponds to the increase in the speed of the train,” board member Robert Sumwalt told CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Amtrak engineer, who was among those injured in the crash, has told authorities that he does not recall anything in the few minutes before it happened.

Characterizing engineer Brandon Bostian as extremely safety conscious, a close friend said he believed reports of something striking the windshield were proof that the crash was “not his fault.” “He’s the one you’d want to be your engineer. Too many are scared to raise the gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, a rate that hasn’t been touched since the Bill Clinton era even as gasoline prices have more than doubled since 1993. Such chronic neglect — and it’s hard to call it anything else given how the U.S. lags much of the world in how much is spent on basic infrastructure when measured as a percentage of its economic output — means the next generation will pay a considerable price. Roads, bridges, rail systems and the rest require replacement, repair or expansion, or they fall apart — and the U.S. economy falls apart along with them.

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