Amtrak train derailment: A short history
Since 2014, there are 26 Amtrak train derailments. Here is a look back at the timeline and the details behind the incidents.
Amtrak is considering suspension of the service to numbers that do not have advanced speed control by a Dec. 31 deadline, the railroad’s top executive said Thursday, threatening to disrupt activities in the U.S. in a push to strengthen safety after a series of deadly wrecks.
President and CEO Richard Anderson told a House subcommittee that Amtrak is concerned passengers at risk due to delays in installing Positive Train Control systems on tracks that use it, but not the owner. These tracks, a majority of Amtrak’s network.
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Railways face the end of the year deadline imposed by Congress for the installation of the GPS system, known as PTC, but some ask regulators for an extension until 2020. That is on top of a three-year postponement will be granted in 2015. They have cited challenges, including equipment problems and delays in testing to ensure it is compatible with other railways’ systems.
Metrolink Director of Operations, R. T. McCarthy shows Metrolink’s implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) in the Metrolink Locomotive and the Cab of the Car Simulators training facility in Los Angeles Union Station. Amtrak is considering suspension of the service to numbers that do not have advanced speed control by a Dec. 31, 2018 term.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., get introduced to prohibit further extensions. DeFazio’s bill would provide more than $2.5 billion in the form of grants to the speed of railways’ progress. Industry groups estimate, the railways will spend about $10 billion in total to install and implement the systems.
Amtrak already has PTC in place on approximately 700 km of tracks in it owns on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D. C., and in Michigan. Elsewhere, the government-owned railroad operates on track owned by freight carriers and other entities.
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Anderson said Amtrak is evaluating whether it will continue to run the trains on third-party tracks where the PTC extended. He said that the railway is not working on tracks whose owners are not yet enough progress to justify a delay, and it is unlikely to work on pathways that regulators have excluded from PTC requirements.
Amtrak ‘ s attitude may also have consequences for the commuters. Anderson said the railroad likely would not let regional carriers, such as MARC and NJ Transit run trains missing PTC on Amtrak-owned tracks after the deadline.
“It is infuriating that so many of the railways are dragging their feet. There are in the lives of people in danger every day.”
– Duy Nguyen, a survivor of the May 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia
PTC is designed to slow or stop trains that are going too fast, take control when an engineer is distracted or incapacitated, and preventing collisions with other trains.
“We believe that the PTC should ultimately be in place for all Amtrak routes and, as a matter of U.S. policy, PTC should be required for all passenger rail travel in America,” Anderson told the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous substances.
Amtrak’s warning came after two of the trains that were involved in the deadly accident on the third-party tracks in the past two months — the last of the approximately 150 crashes, killing more than 300 people over the last five decades, the researchers said prevented by PTC.
On Dec. 18, a train came into a turn at almost 50 mph (80 km / h) over the speed limit, and derailed on tracks south of Seattle in the hands of a regional authority, killing three people. On Feb. 4, a train was switched to the wrong track and slammed into a CSX train on the tracks that are the property of the carrier in Cayce, S. C., killing two people.
“Without the PTC, the system is vulnerable to single points of failure, many are depending on the memory of a human is in interaction with a large, complicated system,” Anderson said. “As an engineer situational awareness lose or forget a line, we have no systems to help them and to help them avoid that error.”
Signals on the South Carolina tracks, were for PTC installation, allowing coordinators to manage the train movements on their own. The NTSB Thursday called for an emergency to the own trains to slow down in such areas and, if switches are not properly aligned.
Duy Nguyen, a Columbia University social work professor who survived the deadly May 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, said he was frustrated by the lack of progress on the PTC.
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Eight people were killed and around 200 people injured when the Washington-New York train rounded a curve at more than twice the 50 mph speed limit, and lifted off the tracks.
“It is infuriating that so many of the railways are dragging their feet,” said Nguyen, 42, of Teaneck, N. J. “There are in the lives of people in danger every day.”