Driver of Amtrak Train That Derailed Sues Amtrak

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

The driver of the Amtrak train that derailed in Port Richmond in 2015 has sued his former employer.

Brandon Bostian was the engineer of Amtrak 188. Eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured — including 11 critical injuries — in the crash. His lawsuit against Amtrak, filed Wednesday in Common Pleas Court, accused the railroad company of failing to provide a safe working environment.

The NTSB report on the crash laid the blame on Bostian, saying he was distracted by radio traffic about a rock that hit another train the same night and did not slow down enough as he entered a curve. Read more »

Joe Biden to Visit Amtrak’s Wilmington Station Today

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden.

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the Wilmington, Delaware train station that bears his name today at 3 p.m. to announce new funding for Amtrak. Biden is expected to reveal a $2.5 billion deal to improve efficiency and infrastructure through a partnership between Amtrak and an unidentified firm specializing in high-speed trains, according to NBC 10. Read more »

Our Odds on the 30th Street Station Area Development Plan

30th Street Station development plan, aerial view

The 30th Street Station area master plan laid out a fantastic vision of a second downtown for Philadelphia in University City. Only money stands in the way of realizing it, with the public sector as the weakest link. | Rendering by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

$6.5 billion.

The figure was tossed out rather casually in the course of yesterday’s formal unveiling of the two-years-in-the-making master development plan for the area surrounding 30th Street Station in University City, but it represents the largest single bet yet placed on the future of Philadelphia.

The parties involved — Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT, SEPTA, and a slew of elected officials and community groups — have put their chips down on a project that has many moving parts and will play out over the course of decades.

As we’ve seen plans almost as ambitious as this one go up in smoke (anyone here remember River City?), it’s only logical that we should ask what its chances for completion are. Herewith are my own odds for the plan’s key components and the overall chances that the plan will be fully realized sometime in our or our children’s lifetimes. Read more »

30th Street Station Development Plans Announced


A renedering of what the area around 30th Street Station would look like when all the projects envisioned in the development plan are completed. | Renderings by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

This morning, Amtrak, SEPTA and Drexel University officials unveiled plans for a massive transformation of the area around 30th Street Station.

The massive, multi-decade 30th Street Station District Plan would, when completed, turn the area around 30th Street Station into a second downtown for Philadelphia focused on the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system. That station, transformed into a multimodal transportation hub for the region, would serve as the linchpin of the planned development.

New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created under the plan, with most of the development privately financed. A total of $2 billion in public investment would leverage an additional $4.5 billion in private investment. These figures are on top of the $3.5 billion Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust have already pledged to see the Schuylkill Yards development, which Drexel President John Fry described as “a down payment” on the plan at this morning’s public unveiling, to completion. Read more »

A Year After the Amtrak Crash, Casey Calls for More Money for Train Safety

Bob Casey - Chris Jagodzinski - Jeff Knueppel

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey speaks at 30th Street Station Friday morning, flanked by Amtrak’s Chris Jagodzinski (right) and SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel. | Photo by Dan McQuade

Flanked by officials from Amtrak and SEPTA, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey today called for more money for safety measures on train lines across the country. Earlier, he had been briefed on progress implementing positive train control, a measure that most likely would have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 a year ago.

“We need to invest more in safety,” Casey said under the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial angel statue. “So that Amtrak and any other rail system has the resources they need … the technology allows a measure of safety that we didn’t have a few years ago.” Read more »

Amtrak’s Second Sunday Accident Injures One

Left: Google Maps. Right: Shreder 9100 at en.wikipedia

Left: Google Maps. Right: Shreder 9100 at en.wikipedia

One person reportedly lost a leg Sunday night after being struck by an Amtrak train in Bensalem.

It was Amtrak’s second serious accident of the day in the Philadelphia area, following a Sunday morning derailment in Chester that killed two people. And both accidents took place nearly a year after last May’s deadly Philadelphia derailment.

“I feel safe riding a train, but things like this keep happening with Amtrak with the crashes and what’s going on here,” Ken Duncan, Bensalem, told 6ABC. “Makes me wanna take the bus.” Read more »

Amtrak Train Derails After Striking Backhoe in Chester [UPDATED]

Photo by passenger Glenn R. Hills Jr. | @glennhills

Photo by passenger Glenn R. Hills Jr. | @glennhills

This is a developing story.

UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters in New York that an Amtrak backhoe operator and a supervisor were the two people killed by an early morning train crash in Chester, according to the Associated Press.

Schumer said he spoke with Amtrak board chairman Anthony Coscia.

SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said Amtrak had notified SEPTA that they were going to have a work crew out in Chester on Sunday morning.

“It’s standard for them to let us know, because we run the Wilmington-Newark line on those same tracks,” he said.

Steve Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media who mounted unsuccessful bids to become the Republican presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, was on Train 89.

“I’m fine. Prayers to families of those killed and injured,” Forbes tweeted earlier today.

Forbes had been scheduled to appear on C-SPAN. He ended up calling in to the station and describing the tense moments after the crash.

“Fortunately we there was no panic,” he said. “When officials came back they were relieved, because in a couple cars there was panic…It was just waiting and waiting and waiting.”

EARLIER: Officials shared little new information during a late-morning news conference about Sunday’s Amtrak train crash in Chester, Delaware County.

Chester fire commissioner Travis Thomas confirmed that two people were killed when Train 89 struck a backhoe on the tracks about 8 a.m.

Thomas said 35 passengers — out of 341 total — were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries at area hospitals. The commissioner said the two deceased individuals were not passengers on the train, but did not confirm reports that both were Amtrak employees.

Thomas said passengers from Train 89 were being transported to Philadelphia to meet relatives and pick up their luggage.

“We have most of the situation under control,” he said.

Stephen Gardner, an Amtrak executive vice president, didn’t shed any additional light on the crash. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board are headed to the crash site to begin investigating the incident.

An NTSB spokesman said the agency will likely hold a press conference later today to share additional information.

Gardner said Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Wilmington is currently suspended, but service between New York and Harrisburg is operational.

Linton Holmes, a North Carolina resident who was a passenger on the train, described the crash to 6-ABC: “It was an explosion. We got off track and then there was like a big explosion. Then there was a fire and windows burst out. Some people were cut up, but it was just minor injuries.”

ORIGINAL: Not quite a year since an Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia’s River Wards made world headlines and focused national attention on issues of rail safety, another deadly Amtrak train derailment has occurred this morning in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Unlike the 2015 derailment, the cause of this crash seems immediately clear: According to an official statement from Amtrak, Train 89 from New York City to Savannah, Georgia, struck a backhoe on the tracks, derailing the lead engine. According to Amtrak, there were 341 passengers on the train, and an unspecified number are being treated for injuries. News outlets are reporting two confirmed fatalities, though their identities, and whether they were passengers, remain unknown.

However, there is no official word at this point about why the backhoe was on the tracks. The Federal Railroad Administration has arrived on the scene to investigate. Read more »

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