Amtrak: Safety Controls Will Be in Place by Year’s End

Fresh push for safety after deadly Philadelphia derailment.

AP | Patrick Semansky

AP | Patrick Semansky

Amtrak plans to have accident-avoidance equipment fully installed in the Northeast Corridor by year’s end, railroad officials told Congress Tuesday morning.

The hearing took place as investigators continued to probe the cause of last month’s deadly derailment in Philadelphia, which killed eight people and sent hundreds more to area hospitals. Investigators have already said the train was traveling at least 100 mph on a curve meant to handle about half that speed.

“Accident-avoidance technology for trains will be in place for the entire Northeast Corridor by the end of this year, Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman told Congress on Tuesday,” Gannett reports.

“The northbound track did not have the same protection installed because the approach speed was 80 mph, which was slow enough that a train could round the curve at that speed without derailing if the engineer failed to slow down,” Boardman said. “At the time, the notion that an engineer might accelerate into the northbound curve was not a circumstance we anticipated and thus we didn’t mitigate for it.”

The hearing came as the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the accident; the report offered little new information about the cause.

“Federal investigators say they still don’t know if the engineer involved in a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia was on his cellphone before the speeding train derailed,” AP reports. “The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report released Tuesday says it also remains unclear if damage to the windshield was caused by the wreck or an object thrown at the train.”

Damage from the accident was estimated at $9.2 million. The full, preliminary report is below.